Do I Need an Attorney to Draft My Will?: Coral Springs Estate Planning Attorney Gives Free Advice for Floridians
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 Florida estate planning attorney would be your best call.
To help you make this decision, we have a FREE complimentary quiz you can download to help you assess how complex your Florida estate plan might be 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.
Unfortunately, the list of unintended consequences and catastrophes created by do-it-yourself estate plans and wills in Florida is long. Each year, thousands of cases go to court over challenges made to wills for varieties of reasons – especially when there is a failure to follow required legal formalities in the execution of your will and estate documents.
Many common things – such as second marriages, having minor children, owning a business, having a large estate – create complex estate planning needs.
Florida state laws are very specific about what can and cannot be in your will and other estate planning documents, as well as who can and can’t be a witness to your will, trust, or medical or financial power of attorney. For example, in Florida, a personal representative must either be related to you by blood, or by marriage and must be a resident of the state. A qualified estate planning attorney will ensure that you are not tripped up by the complexities of estate planning laws.
Drafting a will and creating a comprehensive estate plan is one of the most important things you can do, especially if you have children. While there is certainly an allure of drafting it on your own to save some money, the risk is very high. If you don’t do everything absolutely correctly and per all legal standards – you could lose much, much more than you bargained for.
At the end of the day, the cost of an insufficient will that doesn’t satisfy the legal requirements needed in Florida is far greater than the cost of hiring a Florida estate planning attorney. When you hire The Rosenberg Law Firm to handle your will and estate planning needs, you get a customized experience, with a family-like atmosphere. We offer a free consultation to get you started so that you can tell us everything you’re hoping to accomplish in your estate plan and we can share with you all of your best options to accomplish your goals.
When you work with us, you’re in good hands – and so is your future. You can have peace of mind knowing that you have a valid will and estate plan that will be executed to your wishes, and not subject to Florida’s probate process. We will make sure that your loved ones and family members inherit everything you want to leave for them, in the way that you’d like to leave it.
Do You Need To Speak With A Florida Estate Planning Lawyer? We Offer FREE Estate Planning Consultations
If you need to speak with an experienced Florida estate planning lawyer please contact us online or call our Coral Springs office directly at 954.755.7803 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve Florida residents including all of Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, and all points in between.
Our law office is located in Coral Springs, but we serve all of South Florida and beyond.