The January 1, 2011, issue of the Florida Bar News reports that we are yet another step closer to being able to e-file Florida probate cases. In fact, we aren’t too many steps away from being required to e-file Florida probate matters.
The Florida E-Filing Authority has registered an official online address—www.myfloridacourtaccess.com—for the new e-filing portal. This new technology will allow Florida probate lawyers to file cases electronically from anywhere they can access the Internet.
The Florida Supreme Court has approved five divisions for e-filing: probate, juvenile, circuit civil, county civil, and domestic relations. But that doesn’t mean that each of these divisions can be e-filed in each county. Adoption at the county level has not been uniform. But the article notes that “virtually all” courts will accept Florida probate cases once they join the e-filing system.
For now, e-filing is voluntary, and Florida probate attorney must also submit hard copies of the filings until all of the kinks are worked out. But apparently it won’t be long before e-filing is mandatory. The Florida Courts Technology Commission is considering a rule that will require Florida probate attorneys to file electronically once the systems are in place.
The portal board has approved a system for credit card payments for e-filing. The system will accept credit card payments from MasterCard, Discover, American Express. It will also accept payment by electronic check.
The Florida Association of Court Clerks is also working on programs that will allow pro se litigants to submit paperwork online.
A Supreme Court Workgroup … is discussing ways to help pro se litigants and fees that portal would be an easy way for those filers to gain access to the court system. Clerks said incorporating forms into the portal could reduce the time they have to spend now on assisting pro se litigants.
This system will have the (perhaps undesirable) effect of encouraging do-it-yourself legal work, including Florida probate. Depending on whether adequate checks and balances are built into the system, this could cut back on the need for Florida probate attorneys.