In a world of E-mail, Skype, Face-time, and virtual work stations, who uses pen and paper anymore? In our increasingly digital world, it is clear that businesses in both the public and private sector are leveraging technology to get things done faster and more “e-fficiently”; but are certain procedures best accomplished the old way?
When it comes to last wills and testaments (“wills”), Florida Governor Rick Scott thinks so. He recently vetoed House Bill 277; which if permitted to become law would allow the electronic execution of wills, allowing the testator to be in one location and the witnesses and notary or attorney to be in another. The bill also included that, the parties must be linked by video and a recording must be made.
Scott rejected the bill, saying “…I believe this bill fails to strike the proper balance between competing concerns.” Scott added “The remote notarization provisions in the bill do not adequately ensure authentication of the identity of the parties to the transaction and are not cohesive with the notary provisions set forth in Chapter 117, Florida Statutes.” Other opponents of the bill raised practical concerns such as: what will happen if someone who is “virtually” present but out of sight from the camera?
On the other hand, proponents of the bill argued that wills executed and stored electronically would be just as safe as paper wills stored in boxes in non-fireproof rooms. They further argued that as an added safeguard any undue influence would be picked up by the recording. Supporters of the bill believe it is a matter of time before wills will be executed electronically, especially since there is no prohibition against the creation of an electronic will.
Whether you support the bill or not, it remains unclear whether “e-wills” are inevitable. In the meantime OC Estate & Elder Law stays on top of current trends by employing the latest technology to make our clients’ lives easier. We store copies of all wills, powers of attorney, and health care surrogate documents in a cloud based software so clients and beneficiaries can access them at any time. Still, to ensure the validity of your will, it is preferable to execute your estate plan at our office with live witnesses and a notary present.