The Danger Of Using DIY Estate Planning Forms
It is easy enough today to conduct a Google search for last will and testaments and other estate planning forms. You may consider printing them, filling them out, and even having them notarized. Many people take these same steps in order to create an estate plan in an affordable and convenient manner. Unfortunately, there are many risks associated with creating an estate plan this way. Below, our St. Petersburg wills lawyer explains what they are.
Failing to Execute the Will Properly
Florida law places very strict laws on not only the content of the wills, but also how they are executed. For example, you may fill out the will and sign it. Later, you may take the will to the witnesses you have chosen and ask them to sign it. At an even later time after the witnesses sign it, you may then take the will to a notary. This is not proper execution. For a will to be executed properly, you and the witnesses must sign the document in the presence of each other and the presence of the notary. If you do not execute your will properly, it is not valid and the courts will not enforce it.
Holographic Wills are Not Valid in Florida
Holographic wills, which are handwritten wills, are not recognized as legal documents in Florida. You may think you are avoiding the problem by electronically completing a form and printing out the form to sign it. However, there may come a time when you want to make changes to your will. Many people choose to simply add the changes in their own handwriting and initial it. This does not make those changes legal, though. In fact, they may even invalidate the entire document or at the very least, make it easier for people to challenge it.
Directing the Sale of the Home in Your Will
Without sound legal advice, you may want to include a provision in your will to sell your home. This is one of the biggest mistakes you could make in your will. Florida law allows generous homestead exemptions, which means unsecured creditors cannot go after the equity in your home after you pass away. If you leave directives for the home to be sold so the proceeds can be distributed among your children, the funds will not have the same protection from unsecured creditors. Without obtaining the legal advice you need, mistakes like this are easy to make.
Improper Transfer of the Homestead
You may not want to sell the home but instead, transfer it to someone such as your spouse or children from a previous marriage. If you currently have a spouse and children with that spouse, state law has specific instructions on how it is to be transferred. If you include a provision that goes against state law, the law will dictate who the home will go to.
Our Wills Lawyer in St. Petersburg Can Ensure Yours is Valid
If you are thinking about drafting a will, you need sound legal advice. At Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, our St. Petersburg wills lawyer can draft a document that is legal and that ensures your final wishes are upheld. Call us today at 727-471-5868 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.