Why do-it-yourself wills go wrong

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2020 | Estate Planning |

While Florida doesn’t recognize holographic (handwritten by the testator, but unwitnessed) wills, it is possible to write your own will. Computer programs and online samples make it easy. You just have to print the will out when you’re done, sign it in front of two or more witnesses and have the witnesses sign, as well.

But should you? Probably not.

Experts say that it’s far too easy to make a simple mistake that can invalidate your will. That could propel your estate — and your heirs — into a legal mess after your death and put the court in charge of distributing your worldly assets (which may not go the way you wanted). Or, your will may be outright useless in ways you don’t realize.

Here are some common mistakes experts have seen with DIY wills:

  • The wrong executor is chosen because the testator doesn’t realize the overwhelming responsibility they are assigning a friend or relative when the estate is complicated.
  • There are end-of-life provisions mixed into the will that should be handled through a living will and powers of attorney.
  • The will directs assets to a certain beneficiary, but not the one listed on the designation forms for the testator’s insurance plan, retirement account or something else isn’t the same.
  • Funeral instructions are put into the will because the testator doesn’t realize that the will may not be reviewed until afterward.
  • There are contradictory clauses that lead to conflicts among heirs and litigation.

The idea behind a will is to eliminate ambiguity about what you want to happen to your valuable assets and personal possessions after you are gone. If you’re going to go to the trouble of creating a will (and you should go to that trouble), make sure that it’s done properly by involving an experienced attorney.