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The Florida Senate

HB 483 — Electronic Legal Documents

by Rep. Altman and others (SB 848 by Senator Powell)

This summary is provided for information only and does not represent the opinion of any Senator, Senate Officer, or Senate Office.

Prepared by: Commerce and Tourism Committee (CM)

The bill amends the existing process for an online notary who witnesses an electronic record to require the online notary to verify both the witness’ and principal’s identities. Under current law, the notary is not required to verify the principal’s identity when the notary supervises the witnessing of an electronic record.

The bill requires an online notary to ask the principal certain questions when only one witness is in the physical presence of the principal if an electronic record to be signed is a will, revocable trust, health care advanced directive, agreement regarding succession or a waiver of spousal rights, or power of attorney. These questions are intended to prevent fraudulent or otherwise invalid transactions. For example, these questions might elicit information that would allow the notary to verify that the principal is capable of understanding the record or document in question and capable of giving proper legal consent. Under current law, these questions are necessary and apply in the above scenarios when an online notary witnesses an electronic record, regardless of how many witnesses are in the presence of the principal.

The bill also updates statutory forms used by notaries public and online notaries to reflect how, by physical presence or by audio video technology, the principal and each witness appeared before the notary.

If approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect upon becoming law.

Vote: Senate 40-0; House 118-0