News and Commentary

Florida Becomes Fourth State in Nation to Allow Electronic Wills by Lee F. Hediger

To encourage more people to engage in estate planning and communicate how they intend to maintain, protect and distribute their assets upon incapacitation or death, the Florida legislature recently approved the use of electronic wills and certain other legal documents.

Effective Jan. 1, 2020, Florida residents have the convenience of creating and executing wills and trusts even when they are unable to physically meet in person with their advisors and notary publics. The new law requires parties who are not in the same physical location to execute, notarize and witness last wills and testaments with the aid of secure audio-visual technology, such as Skype, so that participants are able to see, hear and communicate with one another. In addition, the law mandates that notary publics receive specific training to execute wills remotely while also requiring state-approved qualified custodians to receive required authorization to store those documents electronically.

It is estimated that more than half of all American adults over the age of 55 do not have legally binding estate planning documents that detail their post-mortem wishes. Instead, when a person dies without a valid will, he or she leaves these decisions to the probate courts, which do not have the benefit of knowing the decedents’ unique family and business circumstances or his or her wishes for the distribution of his or her personal and business assets. Without a will or a tax-efficient estate plan, you are essentially spending your living years working to build wealth and create a legacy that can end the moment you pass away or you become incapacitated.

While the Florida Electronic Wills Act may make it easier for people to get their financial affairs in order, individuals should not overlook the importance of careful planning under the guidance of experienced financial advisors and legal counsel.

About the Author: Lee F. Hediger is a co-founding director with Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), an Independent Registered Investment Advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs and a registered representative with PWA Securities, LLC. He can be reached at the firm’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office at (954) 712-8888 or

Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), 200 E. Las Olas Blvd., 19th Floor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 712-8888.

 Lee F. Hediger is a registered representative of and offers securities through PWA Securities, LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC.

 This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct.

 Any opinions are those of the advisors of PWA and not necessarily those of PWA Securities, LLC. While we are familiar with the tax provisions of the issues presented herein, as Financial Advisors of PWAS, we are not qualified to render advice on tax or legal matters. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Prior to making any investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.

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Updated on February 2, 2024