- 21 Aug
Online Wills in Florida Held Up by Governor Veto
At a time where many things can be completed online, Florida recently dealt with a bill hoping to include the creation and signing of a will to that list. However, Governor Rick Scott and The Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section, or RPPTL, disagreed with the Florida Legislature and vetoed the bill, at least for now.
In May, Florida Legislature passed HB 277, also known as the Florida Electronic Wills Act, which would allow for the execution of wills through an online system, even allowing for the testator and the witnesses or notary to be in separate locations. The bill required that the parties be linked by live video and a recording of the procedure be made. The section made changes to the legislation in the process, but ultimately opposed the final product, which was vetoed by the governor. The section commented that a main issue was the potential to take advantage of the system when all parties aren’t required in the same room. The bill allowed the parties to be in separate areas, but required a live video link that would be recorded, time stamped, and stored by a verified “custodian.” It also required the testator to verify that they are over 18, not being forced by someone, and are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Deborah Goodall, immediate past chair of RPPTL, had questions of the bill, saying that a live video may not cover cases when someone is in the room but not in view of the camera, and wondered what may happen if a corporate “custodian” goes out of business. The RPPTL also had issues with the bill in that it had the potential to interfere with F.S Ch. 117, the current laws governing notaries.
Governor Scott pointed to issues within the bill concerning the notary process in his veto message, and asked that the Legislative Committees work to deal with the issues regarding the sanctity of the procedure. The governor said that since parts of the bill were not expected to go into effect until April 2018, there is still time to make changes to the legislation and submit it through the legislative process again.
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