Five Common Mistakes in a Do-it-Yourself (DIY) Will
Every adult in Florida should have a valid, well-drafted will in place. If you have a relatively simple estate, you may be wondering: Can I draft my own will? The short answer is ‘yes’—you have the legal right to draft your own will. That being said, in far too many cases, people who write their own wills make errors that cause significant problems down the road. In this article, our Tampa estate planning lawyers highlight five common mistakes that people make when writing do-it-yourself (DIY) wills.
- Selecting an Ineligible Personal Representative
In drafting a will, you should select someone to oversee your estate. This individual is often referred to as an executor or administrator—though, Florida officially uses the term ‘personal representative’. You must select an eligible person to serve as your representative. With exceptions for blood relatives, most out-of-state residents cannot serve as a personal representative for a will in Florida.
- Failure to Sign the Will in Front of Witnesses
Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 732.502), a will must meet certain basic requirements to be legally valid. In writing a will, you should sign your name at the bottom and get at least two witnesses to sign as well. By doing so, you will ensure that your will is in compliance with state law and that there is no confusion about its validity.
- Lack of Precision (Use of Ambiguous Terms)
The language within a will should be as precise as possible. No one wants to leave their family and friends with unclear instructions. Unfortunately, when people write their own wills, they too often (inadvertently) use ambiguous terms. Lack of precision in a will can result in a serious dispute—potentially even leading to litigation.
- Not Enough Information—Key Details are Missing
A will must be comprehensive. You need to make sure that appropriate arrangements are made for all property, assets, and debts. If important information is left out of the document, that could be a problem. Do not assume that your friends and families simply “know” what you want to happen with your estate. Missing details is a recipe for conflict.
- Relying on a Will as Your Only Estate Planning Tool
As important as it is to write a will, it is not the only estate planning tool. In some cases, there may be better estate planning vehicles (such as trusts) to transfer your assets. Further, other estate planning documents (powers of attorney, health care surrogacy, etc.) should be used to provide protection in case of incapacity.
Call Our Tampa, FL Will Planning Attorneys for Immediate Assistance
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our top-rated Hillsborough County estate planning lawyers help clients find security and stability through careful planning. If you have questions about drafting a will, we can help. Contact us now for a confidential initial consultation. With a conveniently located office in Tampa, we offer estate planning services all over the region, including in Riverview, Brandon. Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Palm Harbor.