More and more people are turning to the Internet when in consideration of what happens to their assets after they die. Writing up a will and estate planning can be difficult and murky legal processes even with a lawyer present, but some individuals with smaller estates and fewer assets choose to instead file these documents on the web. While there’s nothing wrong with that on the face of it, sometimes it can cause problems down the road. This trend could last well into the future, according to legal experts in the field.
The Florida House Bill 277 (or Florida Electronic Wills Act) would have made legal the execution of electronic wills had the bill passed. Instead, it was vetoed on June 26, 2017 by Governor Rick Scott. Because so many people believe in the crazy magic of the Internet, it’s unlikely this issue won’t pop up again.
According to the details of the law, no one needs to be present with the individual drawing up the will in order to file online. However, a witness must be present via an online video conference that can be time-stamped and dated in order to retain the same security that a pen and paper document would have. Even though Bill 277 did not yet pass, that hasn’t stopped websites from preparing for the future of e-filing these documents. After all, it’s a mostly untapped market in Florida.
Those supporters who are familiar with the inner workings of the law believe it will help more impoverished individuals who can’t afford professional legal help get their affairs in order.
The big issue is this: the framework for e-filing is already in place. It’s just that the laws haven’t caught up to reality. If the representatives who opposed the bill really wanted to get something substantial done, then they’d have to make the process of e-filing illegal. That’s the only hope of stopping a service that’s already in progress. People are already e-filing, so why stop them?
The legal process called probate is that which occurs when the estate of a deceased individual is ready to be divided among beneficiaries. It begins with the validation of the individual’s will and ends when all of that person’s assets have been transferred to the new owners, whether they are family, friends, or Uncle Sam. If you’re ready to start thinking about what happens to all of your assets when you pass away, then it’s time to get in touch with an experienced probate lawyer who can help you with all the finer details and clever tax loopholes that can help you make the most of what you have. Just don’t be surprised if the future of probate catches you off guard if you wait too long!