Electronic witnessing of trusts, wills comes to Florida

| Jun 13, 2019 | Wills & Trusts

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a 78-page bill that allows for remote notarization and witnessing of legal documents. While many in the real estate world are excited about this advance that will likely making closings easier to arrange, the new law also brings changes to the world of estate planning.

A recent article on the e-notarizations law pointed out that it contains special estate-planning provisions for wills and trusts, health care advance directives, powers of attorney and more.

Those who crafted the new law included provisions to try to reduce the risk of undue influence being a factor in will notarizations. For that reason, the notary involved in e-notarization is required to ask questions about impairment and disability of the principal signor if witnesses are not in the physical presence of the signor.

And if the principal signor is a vulnerable adult, as defined by Florida law, then those witnesses must be physically with the principal signor at the time of the signing. Otherwise, the witnessing will be considered invalid.

It should be noted as well that remote witnessing requires those witnesses to hear the signer acknowledging their signature.

The new law also allows for an electronic will to be admitted to a Florida probate court if it was submitted through the e-filing portal. A paper copy of an electronic will can also be certified by a notary public to be an exact copy and then submitted to the probate court as an original will.

Before people go racing to use the new tech advancement on wills and trusts, however, they should have the documents reviewed by a qualified Brevard County attorney experienced in keeping clients, their assets and their heirs safe.