The Dos and Dont's of a DIY Will

Are you a DIY-type person who wants to prepare your own will? Do you have a can-do attitude and get-it-done mentality? If you're up for the challenge, you can draft your own will and then properly execute it.

There’s no need for Pinterest to tackle this project. Just take a look at these dos and dont's to make sure you have the requisite formalities to validly execute the will.

  • Do make sure you sign and date your will at the end of the document. Technically, a formal signature is not required in Florida. Say what?!! Any mark, such as a symbol or letter, is sufficient as long as you use the mark to signify your signature. If you ask us though, we'd tell you to play it safe and sign with your full name.

  • Don't forget to have two witnesses who are at least 18 years-old watch you sign your will. Florida requires that these witnesses then sign your will in your presence and in the presence of each other. Remember, three's a company!

  • Don’t choose witnesses that stand to inherit under the will. Although it's not mandatory under Florida law, it is generally recommended that the witnesses to your will be "disinterested", which means that they are not beneficiaries of the will. This reduces opportunities for fraud and undue influence.

  • Do notarize your will. It is true that you don't absolutely need to notarize your will for it to be valid. However, Florida allows you to notarize the will to make it "self-proving." A self-proving will speeds up probate because the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it.

Oh, there may be times you wish to make minor changes to your will. You don't always have to rewrite the entire document. Changes, clarifications or amendments to a will are referred to as “codicils”. Florida law will recognize such a change to a will if the codicil meets the formalities required for the original will’s execution.

A self-made will can allow you to specify how you’d like your estate handled upon your death. It provides instructions as to how and to whom property should be divided, who should watch over your minor children, and who should manage the administration of your estate. Just make sure your DIY project doesn't backfire by failing to have the will properly executed.

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But, even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A contested will could cost your estate thousands, and add unnecessary stress to your heirs. If you’d like to talk to an experienced lawyer, contact us.

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Ruth is the founder of Jackson Lee | PA, a consumer law firm recognized for slaying the toughest legal issues. In addition to being an attorney and wife of one, she's a mom to four future world-changers. Drop Ruth a line at ruth@jacksonleepa.com.

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