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Florida lawmakers consider changes to wills, notaries

A pair of Florida lawmakers is proposing a measure to make it easier for state residents to get documents notarized. The proposal would take advantage of improvements in technology that allow easy video conferencing.

If the idea is passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, it would enable residents to use video conferencing to get documents notarized electronically. People often go to notary publics to get contracts, power of attorney, deeds and other documents notarized. The bill would also enable people to create and change wills without having to track down and visit a notary public.

“We think this puts Florida really at the vanguard of technology but also ensures that everyone has access to this type of technology,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes, one of the authors of the measure.

Some critics of the proposal warn that it could open the door to new problems. Sen. Kevin Rader worries that the measure would lead to fraud, with some people making false claims to online notaries.

"...the whole purpose (of a notary public) is to ensure that the person is who they say they are," said Sen. Kevin Rader. He added that notaries often know the people who are bringing them documents. He said an in-person meeting also enables the notary to do a more careful check of IDs and documents.

Brandes insists that his measure includes language that will prevent fraud in the making of wills. “This amendment provides additional safe guards for wills and provides unique issues as it relates to wills,” he said.

Of course, critics have long said that do-it-yourself wills and online services often create more problems than they solve. In too many cases, people make inadvertent mistakes that open their will to challenge and even rejection in court.

An experienced estate planning attorney can help you safeguard your family and your assets with an affordable will, trust and estate plan. Contact Cantwell & Goldman, PA, to schedule a free consultation.

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