Can You Write Your Own Will?
Many Floridians want to know whether they can write their own will. The answer is yes—but depending on the extent of your estate and what you hope to accomplish, working with an experienced estate planning attorney is often a better option.
Florida legal requirements
To make a valid will in Florida, the testator must be over 18 and of “sound mind.” Sound mind means that the testator understands the extent of their property, how it will be distributed, and to whom. Wills may be handwritten or typed, so long as it is signed and witnessed properly. While digital wills are accepted if executed properly, it is usually best to have a hard copy.
In Florida, the will must be signed by you and in the presence of two witnesses. Furthermore, the witnesses must sign the will in your and each other’s presence. There is no requirement that it be notarized, but if you want to make the will “self-proving,” you will need a notary.
When is it a bad idea to write your own will?
Although you can write your own will, that does not mean you should. Here are some circumstances where it is better to engage the services of a lawyer:
- You have a large amount of assets which may be subject to estate taxes
- You want to make complex plans, such as leaving real estate in trust for your spouse until they die, then passing it on to other beneficiaries
- You need to make long-term care arrangements for dependents
- Someone is likely to contest your will, whether on grounds of undue influence, unsound mind or fraud
- You want to disinherit (or substantially disinherit) your surviving spouse, children or other interested parties
- You want to pass on a business or business interest to your heirs
- You have questions about what a will can accomplish, or want to learn more about other estate planning tools
When you need trusted estate planning assistance in Tampa, FL, contact the attorneys at Baumann Kangas Estate Law today.