The Risks of A DIY Will
A quick browse online these days will reveal a wealth of DIY websites with estate planning documentation. It’s no wonder, then, that so many Florida residents are tempted to make one themselves. Rather than paying a probate attorney in Miami Fl, they could save money by drawing up their own wills. Even better, they may be able to save effort and time by using an online service. While it may sound appealing, there are some downsides to consider. Even a small mistake on an online form could create some major issues in the future.
Technical errors are the biggest risk for any Florida resident who chooses to make a DIY will. Should even a small technical error exist, Florida law will render the will invalid. This has the same effect as if the deceased had never drawn up a will. The court will not follow the deceased specific instructions. Instead, it will distribute his or her property in line with the intestate succession law.
Even if the court acknowledges the validity of the DIY will, there are still some potential pitfalls to address. Unclear phrasing, typographical errors or any omissions could derail the deceased’s plans. Anyone who draws up a will must have a thorough understanding of Florida law. Without that knowledge, the chances of making a mistake are high. Omissions and errors could have serious potential consequences. Therefore, anyone thinking of making a DIY will should educate himself or herself thoroughly about the procedural and legal requirements.
Common Errors Encountered with DIY Wills
There are several common errors made by Florida residents who create DIY wills.
• Appointing personal representatives – The person must appoint a competent and trusted relative to manage his or her estate. However, there are rules under Florida law. The deceased’s personal relative must be a resident of Florida. The only exception to this is a blood relative, an adopted relative or a relation by marriage. The person must be 18 years or older and be mentally and physically capable of performing the required duties. He or she must also not have a felony conviction. Should the deceased choose an ineligible representative, the court will appoint a replacement. This person may not be in line with the deceased’s wishes and this could cause conflict in the family
• Tax and legal issues – The deceased cannot pass assets on after death by simply naming someone to receive them. He or she must consider taxation. The family home is usually protected from any creditors when it passes to a descendant or surviving spouse. However, should the property be sold to distribute the proceeds among beneficiaries, creditors could intercept the proceeds. An expert estate planning attorney in Miami Fl will be able to offer advice on this matter. Unfortunately, anyone making a DIY will would have no access to such expert advice.
• Loose terminology – Many people today live in a blended family. This leads to terminology issues when defining family relationships. While the deceased may consider his or her stepchildren to be covered by the term “children,” this isn’t the case in law. This could leave a stepchild out of his or her intended inheritance.
• Issues that a will cannot cover – Most people who use a DIY will stop there. However, seeking advice from an estate planning attorney in Miami is the best way to address several issues. What happens if the person drawing up the will become incapacitated? He or she needs to authorize someone to act on his or her behalf. Also, what happens if the person has children? The person needs to nominate a guardian should he or she die before the children reach adulthood. A DIY will cannot address either of these estate planning problems.
Seeking Advice from The Best Probate Attorney in Miami
While there are forms available to make your own will, this is a risky approach. Seeking advice from a probate attorney in Miami-Dade is the best course of action. Here at Thomas McDonald, we can offer you expert help and draw up a valid will. You’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing we will carry out your wishes after your death. You can also be confident that your will is valid under Florida law.
While it may be tempting to save time and money with a DIY will, there are numerous risks. Nobody wants to think about dying. However, estate planning is not something you should leave to chance. Contact Thomas McDonald probate attorney Miami today and arrange an appointment to discuss your will. You will then be able to relax knowing your family won’t experience any problems when you’re gone.