Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s recent veto of Florida’s proposed “Electronic Wills Act” has added to the recent buzz in the estate planning world surrounding proposed new legislation regarding electronic wills. Florida’s proposed Electronic Wills Act (House Bill 277) aimed to authorize the creation of electronic wills and the execution and witnessing of such wills by way of remote technology.
Gov. Scott explained his reasons for striking down the proposed Act in a veto letter dated June 26, 2017. Despite the valid competing interests involved in creating technology to achieve financial feasibility in the will-making process while still ensuring a process safeguarded against fraud and exploitation, he does not want to sign what he believes to be an imperfect bill into law.
Gov. Scott addresses concerns regarding authentication of an individual’s identity in the event of a remote witnessing and notarization (i.e. something like a live video-conference). He also refers to the fact that the Act’s nonresident venue provisions, potentially allowing a will to be admitted to probate in a venue based upon the location of the will’s qualified custodian, might burden local courts.
There is no current or pending legislation in Tennessee regarding the validity of electronic wills. While implementing uniform legislation concerning the execution of electronic wills may be far off, the basic principles expressed in Gov. Scott’s veto letter resonate on a deeper level with many individuals contemplating the need for estate planning.
Most people want their final wishes to be protected against fraud and exploitation, and these concerns can be more readily addressed through “old fashioned” non-digital, estate planning tools. Executing a valid will that complies with Tennessee statutory law, creating incapacity documents to prepare for life’s unexpected hurdles, and discussing potential non-probate transfers can all function as safeguards and simultaneously avoid the probate process for your loved ones.