3 Reasons Why A DIY Florida Will Or Trust Is Not Advised
Alex did a quick Google search for free will templates online. He found so many templates he didn’t know which to choose from, and finally he picked one that appeared to be from a reputable website and he was able to download it to his desktop. It seemed pretty simple, but it was also free, so he couldn’t complain. Alex did not notify anyone of his online will before he died, and because of this his assets went to probate. What can Alex’s family learn from his mistake?
What about Quick Online Services and Fill-in-the Blank Templates?
It seems like every time you turn around a new website pops up advertising free legal forms. These forms are boilerplate and they make no guarantees that the form is enforceable in the person’s home state. Especially regarding estate planning, these forms tend to provide the most basic protection, if any at all. While these websites might guarantee that forms available are in fact “complete” and cover all possible situations, the reality is estate planning is not one size fits all. If it seems too good to be true it probably is too good to be true. For example, lady bird deeds are only enforceable in a few states, including Florida. They are advantageous for transferring real property between relatives without going through probate. It is highly unlikely that an online template website advertising services to people throughout the U.S. would offer specific templates targeted to certain state residents, and even more unlikely that a boilerplate deed could be located online for free.
Ineffective, Illegal, Unenforceable
Taking a shortcut to find an online will for free is ill-advised because it fails to account for a person’s specific needs and desires. A blank last will and testament likely only contains provisions regarding the distribution of real property and personal property. It likely will not contain information about charitable donations, leaving assets to a trust, or what happens if the person’s estate is vast. A last will and testament is also only one piece of an estate planning puzzle. It fails to account for a person’s health needs while still living. It also provides no protection from the deceased’s assets going to probate, which could take months to resolve.
Most importantly, a will drafted online without the assistance or consultation of a licensed attorney may not be valid or enforceable under the law. In Florida, a will is not valid and enforceable unless it is executed in the presence of two, impartial witnesses. In our hypothetical, Alex’s will is not enforceable because he filled it out on his own, did not sign it, and even if he had signed it, it was not in the presence of two witnesses. This means even if his family did discover the online copy, they would not be able to honor his wishes because the will is not valid.
Call the Villages Estate Attorneys at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group
To achieve peace of mind knowing your estate planning is conducted correctly, it is highly recommended that you consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Our lawyers at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group are dedicated to ensuring we exceed our clients’ expectations and consider all of their concerns before working on a draft. With offices conveniently located in The Villages, we are standing by to serve you. Call today to schedule a consultation.