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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.

© 1998-2020 Wiggin and Dana LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 179

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About this Author

Veronica Bauer, Partner, Wiggin and Dana
Partner

Veronica R.S. Bauer is a Partner in the firm's Private Client Services Department in Palm Beach, Florida. Veronica focuses her practice on estate planning, estate and trust administration and charitable planning and administration.

Her practice includes assisting individuals and families with tax-efficient and practical estate, gift and income tax planning. She also assists fiduciaries and beneficiaries through estate settlement and trust administration matters

561-701-8701
Mary Margaret Colleary Estate Planning Attorney Wiggin and Dana
Associate

Mary is an associate in Wiggin and Dana’s Private Client Services Department in the New York office, where she focuses her practice on estate planning, trust and estate administration services, and family office representation.

Prior to joining Wiggin and Dana, Mary worked with several smaller boutique trusts and estates law firms in various roles including as an associate attorney, a summer associate and a trust administrator.

Mary earned her J.D. from New York Law School, where she made the Dean’s List, was the recipient of the Philip ’76 and Eileen Michaels Scholarship for Trusts and Estates, and received the Professor Joseph T. Arenson Award for Excellence in Wills and Decedents’ Estates. Mary received her B.A. in Leadership Studies, Rhetoric & Communication Studies and Law & the Liberal Arts from the University of Richmond and was a visiting student of Arts at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Mary is both a fifth generation New Yorker and a dual Irish-American citizen. She currently serves on the New York City Bar Association’s Estate & Gift Taxation Committee and is a member of the Irish American Bar Association of New York.

212-551-2637