Florida Remote Signing Laws Effective July 1, 2020
Additions to Florida Remote Signing Laws Coming July 1, 2020
The Sunshine State will soon allow remote notarization and remote witnessing for all types of estate planning documents, effective July 1, 2020.
Unlike many states, such as New York and Connecticut, that have issued emergency orders to permit remote signings of estate planning documents during the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida did not. While this has been frustrating for Florida clients and practitioners alike, the good news is that Florida’s remote signing laws, for both estate planning and other legal documents, are here to stay.
For those clients looking to establish Florida domicile, executing your estate planning documents in accordance with the formalities of Florida law is particularly important. Florida’s new remote signing laws allow you the flexibility to execute your documents in accordance with Florida law from anywhere in the United States.
Overview of Current Florida Remote Signing Law
Last year, Florida passed legislation authorizing the remote signing of various types of legal documents. Effective January 1, 2020, these laws permitted the remote signing of deeds, probate pleadings and certain powers of attorney. The effective date for the ability to remotely sign most estate planning documents, however, was postponed until July 1, 2020.
Under Florida’s remote notarization and witnessing laws, the online notary must be present in Florida, but the witnesses and principal can be anywhere in the United States and Florida law will govern the validity of the remote signing.
Remote signing utilizes audio-video communication technology to carry out the execution formalities of legal documents that would normally require the physical presence of a notary and/or witnesses. This is accomplished through the use of an authorized remote online notarization (“RON”) service provider. You only need access to a webcam and microphone, and the online notary and RON service provider will handle the rest.
New Law Effective as of July 1, 2020
Beginning July 1, Florida law will permit the remote signing of all core estate planning documents. Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care advance directives and designations of preneed guardian will no longer require the physical presence of a notary and/or witnesses when the principal signs these documents, subject to certain limited exceptions.
We are pleased to share that Wiggin and Dana’s Palm Beach office, in conjunction with a trusted RON service provider, is equipped to assist in supervising the execution and online notarization of estate planning and other legal documents, beginning this summer.
You do not need to be physically located in Florida when signing these documents and can still show your intent that your documents be governed by Florida law, adding a checkmark to the “Florida column” for establishing your domicile.
While remote signing and the flexibility it offers is a great option for some clients and certainly worth taking advantage of in the right circumstances, we strongly recommend signing in person whenever possible. In person signings remain the most reliable and failsafe way to ensure that the necessary execution formalities are adhered to and that your documents are in full force and effect.