Florida Electronic Wills: The Importance of a Qualified Custodian for Self-Proving Wills

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Florida Self Proving Electronic Wills and Qualified Custodians

As technology continues to advance, so does the way we handle legal matters, including estate planning. In Florida, electronic wills have become a popular alternative to traditional paper-based wills. However, to ensure a smooth probate process, it’s crucial to understand that Florida electronic wills are not self-proving unless a qualified custodian of the electronic will is designated in the document.

In this blog, we’ll explain what self-proving wills are, the role of a qualified custodian, and how to make sure your electronic will is self-proving. We’ll also introduce Florida Document Specialists, a trusted qualified custodian of electronic wills in Florida.

What is a Self-Proving Will?

A self-proving will is a legally recognized document that requires minimal additional evidence to be considered valid during the probate process.

The self-proving aspect of a will can save time, reduce costs, and minimize disputes over the validity of the document. In Florida, a traditional paper will becomes self-proving if it includes a self-proving affidavit signed by the testator (the person making the will) and two witnesses, all of whom sign the affidavit in the presence of a notary public.

Electronic Wills in Florida

In 2020, Florida passed the Electronic Wills Act (Florida Statute 732.521-732.529), which allowed for the creation of electronic wills. These digital documents have the same legal standing as traditional paper wills, provided they meet specific requirements, including the presence of an “electronic signature.”

However, an electronic will is not considered self-proving by default, even if it contains a notarized self-proving affidavit and meets all other requirements. Florida Statute 732.523 explains this in detail.

The Role of a Qualified Custodian

For an electronic will to be self-proving in Florida, a qualified custodian must be designated in the document. A qualified custodian is a person or entity responsible for maintaining the electronic will and ensuring its safekeeping. The Electronic Wills Act sets forth specific criteria that a qualified custodian must meet, including:

  • Being a resident of Florida or incorporated or organized under Florida law.
  • Maintaining a physical office in Florida for providing custodial services.
  • Providing the testator and the testator’s personal representative with access to the electronic will.
  • Maintaining a system for the secure storage of electronic records, including protecting the records from unauthorized access and disclosure.
  • Retaining the electronic will in a way that prevents tampering or unauthorized changes.
  • Carrying cyber insurance to protect against hacking, data loss, and other digital threats.

Florida Document Specialists: A Trusted Qualified Custodian

Florida Document Specialists is a qualified custodian of electronic wills in Florida, meeting all the criteria set forth by the Electronic Wills Act. By designating Florida Document Specialists as your qualified custodian, you can ensure that your electronic will is self-proving and safeguarded against potential issues during the probate process.

The Dangers of Attorneys and Online Notaries Not Familiar with the Law

Unfortunately, not all attorneys and online notaries are well-versed in the requirements for self-proving electronic wills in Florida. Some attorneys and online notaries may notarize electronic wills without designating a qualified custodian, which renders the wills not self-proving and potentially defective. This oversight can cause significant issues during the probate process, including delays, increased costs, and disputes among family members. Additionally, a defective electronic will may require the court to admit additional evidence to prove its validity, which could be a time-consuming and costly process.

Avoid Problems

To avoid these problems, it’s essential to work with knowledgeable professionals, such as a well-informed document preparation service and a reputable online notary service, when creating your electronic will. By taking the time to research and choose a qualified custodian like Florida Document Specialists, you can ensure your electronic will is self-proving and compliant with the Electronic Wills Act. This extra effort will ultimately help guarantee a smoother probate process and protect your estate’s assets for your loved ones.


To make your electronic will self-proving, ensure that it designates a qualified custodian like Florida Document Specialists, who meets the requirements set forth by the Electronic Wills Act. The document should also include an electronic notarization by a Florida notary public and electronic signatures by the testator and two witnesses. As with traditional wills, all parties must sign in the presence of each other. By taking these steps, you can help guarantee a smooth probate process and protect your estate’s assets for your loved ones.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • On June 7, 2019, Florida Governor DeSantis signed the Florida Electronic Wills Act. This act allowed for the electronic signing, witnessing, and notarization of wills and other estate planning documents.

    It has been lawful to execute an electronic will by online notarization since July 1, 2020.

  • Are Florida Electronic Wills (eWills) Self-Proving?

    An electronic will is not self-proving if it fails to designate a qualified custodian of electronic will, even if there is a notarized self-proving affidavit.

  • What are the Florida laws concerning online wills, online notarization, and qualified custodians?

    Florida Statutes Regarding Electronic Wills and Remote Online Notarization (RON)

    In 2020 electronic wills became legal in Florida, with the implementation of a law permitting online notarization of most all legal documents.  Electronic wills (or eWills) in Florida became available to the general public beginning on July 1, 2020.

    Chapter 2019-71 – Florida House Bill No. 409

    Electronic Notarization – FS 117.021

    Electronic Journal of Online Notarizations – FS 117.245

    Online Notarization Procedures – FS 117.265

    Supervising the Witnessing of Electronic Records – FS 117.285

    Self-Proof of Electronic Will – FS 415.102

    Florida Qualified Custodians of Electronic Wills – FS 732.524 (Read our blog on self-proving electronic wills and qualified custodians)

    Liability Coverage – Qualified Custodians – FS 732.525

  • Can Florida attorneys use your notary and custodian services for their clients?

    Most certainly.

    We’ve spoken with many attorneys about executing estate planning documents via remote online notarization.   We’re up and running and available to your practice.

    We’d love to speak with you.  Please call 386-256-5540.

  • What are the benefits of an electronic will?

    The following is an overview of creating and executing a will online, including some potential benefits and limitations to consider.

    One significant advantage of creating a will online is the convenience factor. By using an online service, you can complete the process from the comfort of your own home, without needing to find a traditional notary public or witnesses. Additionally, many businesses that offer notary services, such as UPS, AMSCOT, or your bank, may not notarize wills, making online options more accessible.

    Another potential benefit of online wills is the video recording of the will execution process. This video can serve as evidence of your intentions if anyone ever contests your will's validity.

    Additionally, online wills may eliminate the risk of losing your will. Most online services provide a certified paper copy, but they also store an electronic version of your will in secure backup systems, ensuring you always have access to a copy.

    Finally, creating a will online may be a safer option during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it allows you to complete the process without leaving your home.

    It's important to keep in mind that laws around electronic wills and their validity can vary by location, so it's essential to ensure that any online service you use is compliant with the laws in your area. Additionally, it's always a good idea to seek legal advice when creating a will to ensure that your wishes are properly documented and executed.

  • What are the personal requirements to execute an electronic will in Florida?

    Remote Witnesses vs. Witnesses Physically Present

    First and foremost, if you intend to use remote witnesses (witnesses not physically in the room with you) you must not be classified as a vulnerable adult.  If the signer is a vulnerable adult, then the electronic will (and any other testamentary documents), may not be executed by remote online notarization with remote witnesses.  If you have qualified witnesses physically present with you, the electronic will is back in play.

    Florida considers a vulnerable adult as:

    a person 18 years of age or older whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living or to provide for his or her own care or protection is impaired due to a mental, emotional, sensory, long-term physical, or developmental disability or dysfunction, or brain damage, or the infirmities of aging.”

    If you are dishonest with your online notary, and it is later found that you were a vulnerable adult when you executed your electronic will, it will not be valid.

    General Requirements for Executing an Electronic Will

    Testamentary Capacity

    Florida law requires that the testator exhibit a minimum level of capacity in order to execute a valid will. Section 732.501 of the Florida Probate Code sets a low threshold of capacity and simply provides:  Any person who is of sound mind and who is either 18 or more years of age or an emancipated minor may make a will.

    What is “Sound Mind”

    Whether one has testamentary capacity is a question determinable only by mental capacity of the testator at the time he executed his will. The making of a will does not depend upon a sound body but upon a sound mind.   The term, “sound mind”, means the ability of the testator “to mentally understand in a general way the nature and extent of the property to be disposed of, and the testator’s relation to those who would naturally claim a substantial benefit from the will, as well as a general understanding of the practical effect of the will as executed.”   In re Wilmott’s Estate, Fla. 1953, 66 So.2d 465, 467, 40 A.L.R.2d 1399; Newman v. Smith, 1919, 77 Fla. 633, 82 So. 236, 241; Hamilton v. Morgan, 1927, 93 Fla. 311, 112 So. 80; and Neal v. Harrington, 1947, 159 Fla. 381, 31 So.2d 391.

    Method of Execution

    In order for a will to be valid in Florida, it must conform with the execution requirements set forth in the Florida Probate Code. Pursuant to Section 732.502 of the Florida Probate Code, a will must be in writing and must be signed by the testator at the end of the document.  The testator will sign the electronic will by pushing a button under the supervision of a qualified notary public.

    The testator’s execution of the will must be witnessed by at least two attesting witnesses who also must sign the will in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other.

    Undue Influence

    The signer of an electronic will in Florida must be free from all undue influence.  Undue influence can be described when the testator (the person signing the will, the “testator”), is induced to act contrary to their own wishes.  The provisions in the will are actually another person’s wishes, not actually that of the testator.  If it is later proved that a testator signed his or her will under undue influence, the will could be made invalid.

    If you are concerned about undue influence, you are encouraged to speak with a licensed Florida attorney prior to executing your will.

    Some factors that could be considered undue influence are:

    1. Was the alleged undue influencer present when the will was signed?
    2. Was the alleged undue influencer present when the testator expressed a desire to make a will?
    3. Did the alleged undue influencer recommend the lawyer that drafted the will?
    4. Did the alleged undue influence know what the will said before it was signed?
    5. Did the alleged undue influencer give the lawyer instructions on preparing the will?
    6. Did the alleged undue influencer pick the witnesses of the will?
    7. Did the alleges undue influencer keep the will after it was signed?
  • Can I execute my electronic will if I’m in a nursing home or an assisted living facility?

    Maybe.  If you have two witnesses physically present with you during the online notary session, you can execute an electronic will.

    Although we completely understand that persons in nursing homes and assisted living facilities would benefit from remote online notarization, Florida law prohibits the online notarization of testamentary documents with remote witnesses by those considered to be, “vulnerable adults”.  One of the definitions of a vulnerable adult is a person who requires assistance with their day-to-day care.

    We would also like to make clear that the discretion of our online notaries public is final in deciding whether or not to continue with an online notarization of a testamentary document.

  • Can a paper copy of an electronic will be admitted to probate?


    A paper copy of an electronic will which is certified by a notary public to be a true and correct copy of the electronic will may be offered for and admitted to probate and shall constitute an original of the electronic will.

    Florida Document Specialists provides a laser printed copy of the executed electronic will to each customer along with an original notarial certification.  This is mailed to the customer by USPS Priority Mail (with tracking number), within 72 hours of the execution of the electronic will.  This service is included in the package price.

  • What if I want to revoke, destroy, or cancel my electronic will?

    Revoking a Will Under Florida Law

    An electronic will or codicil is revoked by the testator, or some other person in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s direction, by deleting, canceling, rendering unreadable, or obliterating the electronic will or codicil, with the intent, and for the purpose, of revocation, as proved by clear and convincing evidence.

    Contact Florida Document Specialists for assistance.

    We have a procedure in place to completely destroy the electronic will documents in our possession upon your verified, written request.

    You should always keep a copy of the “Reference Number” that was assigned to your electronic will.

  • How does the court get my electronic will when I die?

    Florida Statute 732.901 directs that the custodian of a last will and testament must deposit the will with the clerk of court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator is dead.

    That being said, there are two different ways the “deposit” of your will can be facilitated.

    1. As part of our service, you will receive a fully executed copy of your electronic will on paper, along with an original notarized certificate from the qualified will custodian certifying the copy to be an authentic and unaltered copy of the original.  You can keep this paper will in a safe place (as you would a traditional will), and make a responsible person of your choosing aware of it’s location.  The court should accept this document as the deposit of the, “original will”, since it is an electronically notarized document.  This is the preferred method.

    2. If Florida Document Specialists is made aware of the passing of a person whose electronic will is in our custody, we are required by law to deposit the will with the clerk of court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator is dead.  There is no additional charge for this service.

  • How long will you store my electronic will?

    Your electronic will, the electronic notary journal entry, and the audio-video recording of the online notary session, will be retained by Florida Document Specialists until you tell us to destroy it.

  • Will my electronic will be kept safe and secure?

    Secure Cloud Storage

    • At our company, we offer private cloud storage that ensures the safety and confidentiality of your files. Our system replicates your files across multiple datacenter locations that are certified for their security and reliability, giving you peace of mind. 
    • Your files are encrypted from end-to-end, which means that they're protected against unauthorized access at all times. You can view or download your files at any time using a link that's available to you 24/7/365. 
    • We comply with global data privacy regulations to keep your files safe in the cloud. Our system is compliant with USA, EU/UK GDPR, and Canadian data residency laws, ensuring that your files are always stored securely and according to the relevant regulations.

    Tamper-Proof Documents and Digital Signatures

    When you use Florida Document Specialists to notarize a document, the notary will use digital certificates to ensure that the document is tamper-proof. A digital certificate is a type of electronic document that is issued by a trusted third party, such as a certification authority.

    The digital certificate is used to verify the identity of the signer and to create a unique digital signature that is attached to the document. This digital signature acts as a seal of authenticity, indicating that the document has not been altered or tampered with since it was signed.

    The digital signature is created using a complex algorithm that generates a unique code that is impossible to replicate. This code is based on the contents of the document, as well as the signer's private key, which is a unique identifier that is known only to the signer.

    When the document is signed and the digital signature is attached, the notary will also include a digital certificate that verifies the authenticity of the signature. This certificate is issued by a trusted third party and contains information about the signer, the notary, and the digital signature itself.

    The use of digital certificates and signatures ensures that the document is tamper-proof and that it cannot be altered or forged after it has been signed. This provides a high level of security and authenticity for online notarized documents, giving you confidence in their legal validity.

  • Can any Florida online notary notarize a will online?

    No.  Most Florida online notaries do not have the technology or training to execute electronic wills.

    Some online notaries are ignorant of the rules and are performing unlawful notarizations of online wills.