Do I Need an Attorney to Draft My Will?
Updated: Jun 13, 2022
In the state of Florida, you are not legally required to have an attorney draft your will. Your will doesn’t need to be prepared, or even reviewed by an attorney for it to be valid. There are many tools online that can help guide you as you prepare your will. If you do create your own will in Florida, however, it still needs to abide by all of Florida’s state laws regarding wills and estates.
A probate judge will not care if you wrote a will yourself, and if there are elements that are not legally sound, the Florida judge won’t bend the rules for you and it could come at a great cost to you, your estate plan, and your family and loved ones. If your will doesn’t comply with all legal requirements, it will be treated as if you have no will at all.
The Need for Legal Advice on Florida Wills and Estate Plans
As mentioned above, if you draft your will yourself and it doesn’t fully comply with Florida laws, your entire estate will be treated as though you died intestate - which means it will be treated as if you had no will at all.
Since you’re not legally required to have an estate attorney draft your will for it to be legally valid in Florida, you will need to decide whether you feel comfortable handling your own will or if consulting a experienced estate planning attorney would be your best call.
To help you make this decision, we have a Free Complimentary Consultation and whether you are likely to be able to draft a will on your own, or if you’re better off hiring an experienced estate planning lawyer.
What Can Make my Florida Will and Estate Plan More Complex?
Many factors can complicate a Florida will and Estate plan.
Elements that complicate Florida Estate Plans include:
If you’re married
If you and your spouse disagree on how to divide your estate and joint and individual assets
If you have minor children
If you have a child with special needs who will need long-term care
If you have children from more than one spouse or partner, or children from a previous marriage but now have a new spouse or partner
If you own significant assets (totaling more than $1 million) that could be subject to estate taxes
If you have any heirs that you don’t want to get any inheritance
If you are worried about family members contesting assets after your death
If you’d like to leave any portion of your estate to charity
There are many other complicating factors to creating a valid will and estate plan in Florida, but the above are some of the most common scenarios we see. If you answered “yes” to any of the above estate planning questions, you may have some complex estate planning issues.
Estate planning, if done incorrectly, can have terrible consequences. People you designate as beneficiaries might not receive what you intended to leave for them, your estate may pay far more in taxes than is necessary, and in some cases, your minor children may not be provided for adequately.
All this said, the best candidates for self-prepared wills are single, have no minor children, and have minimal assets. But even for someone in that situation, there can still be high costs to not having a legally valid Florida will.
Even a basic Florida estate plan requires more than a will. Everyone should also have a durable power of attorney appointing an agent to manage your finances in case you become incapacitated, and a living will expressing your wishes for end of life care in case of some medical event or accident and a health care power of attorney appointing an agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.