Can I Write My Own Will

A will is a legal document that explains how you want your property and other assets distributed after your death. Because the process of doing a will seems relatively simple, many people and programs have suggested that you can do your own will. Therefore, it may be tempting to download a form from the Internet or buy a form from an office supply store and write your own will. After all, why use an attorney when the process seems so simple?

If you are contemplating writing your own will without a lawyer’s guidance, think again. Florida state law requires that you follow specific guidelines in order for your will to be valid and acceptable. If you do not follow the precise rules, your will may be deemed invalid in court. As an experienced attorney, I have seen many mistakes made by people who attempted to do their own will. Some common missteps included among the mistakes that either caused a specific will to be declared invalid, created problems that cost the family a lot of extra attorneys fees to straighten out or resulted in an undesirable outcome include:

  • not having enough witnesses (will declared invalid)
  • not having the witnesses and notary sign at the same time as the person writing the will (will declared invalid)
  • improper gifts to minors which costs a family an additional $15,000 in attorneys fees to set up guardianships which would not have been necessary if the will had been done properly
  • failure to name a personal representative (family spent more money having hearings to argue about who should be personal representative)
  • failure to include a residual clause with the result of having property go to a person for which the property was never intended
  • inclusion of provisions which were unenforceable because they conflicted with beneficiary designations in banking records (the funds went to the beneficiary in banking records, not the beneficiary listed in the will)
  • failure to allow the person making the will to have their own independent meeting with the attorney of their choice (a will was set aside due to undue influence)

These are only a few things that can make your will unenforceable. If you are considering writing your own will, don’t take such a gamble! Contact an experienced Florida wills and trusts attorney.

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