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Will a fill-in-the blank will be enforceable in Florida?

In the digital era, it is easy to find almost anything you search for online.  Those seeking to create their own will online will find no shortage of standard form type wills.  The problem with the web, however, is that anyone can post nearly anything.  As such, a supposed Florida will found on the internet might be completely invalid per state law.  Websites like LegalZoom offer more assurance than the standard form will and could comply with the law, but nonetheless these do-it-yourself wills suffer from some major shortcomings.  Our Tampa estate planning lawyers explore the dangers of making your own estate plan online below. 

DIY Wills May Not Comply With State Law 

Each state has its own specific requirements when it comes to estate planning.  Per Florida law, to be enforceable a will must be in writing.  An oral will is not generally recognized as valid.  A will can be handwritten, but it must meet some required formalities or it will be considered an invalid holographic will.  
To be considered valid, a will must be signed by the testator, or on the testator’s behalf if he or she is physically incapacitated.  It must further be signed by two witnesses who are competent.  It is generally best to have two witnesses who are not beneficiaries to the will, but the law does not specifically exclude such witnesses.  Alternatively, the will can be notarized, which will make it self-proving.   

Often times, wills found online may not insert the requisite number of signatures or could contain clauses that render them unenforceable.  Should you create a will online, only to have it later struck down by the court, your estate will be treated as though you died intestate.  This means that state law will dictate who receives what assets and your last wishes may not be honored.

Your DIY Estate Plan Maybe Inadequate 

Even if your will is deemed valid, it may still have several shortcomings. No online website can provide the in-depth analysis of your assets and unique family situation that an estate planning attorney can.  For most people, a will is not the only legal document you need to protect your heirs and your future.  A comprehensive estate plan will usually involve a will, several powers of attorney, and potentially a trust.  The money you save in the short term could pale in comparison to the immense sums your family may lose if you forego the assistance of an estate planning lawyer.  As such, it is always best to seek the help of a qualified estate planning attorney.