Can my husband and I write our own Wills?

My husband and I live in FL and need to have a Will, as well as a Power of Attorney. Would like to write our own on both. Would they be legal?

Asked on November 6, 2011 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can write your own Wills and have them legally recognized, as long as they meet the basic legal requirements under state law. No specific words that have to be used but a Will must be executed with certain formalities. These formalities involve the form of the Will, the signature of the testator (i.e. the person making the Will) and the signatures of the attesting witnesses.

A Will be considered valid if:

  1. The document is written (meaning typed or printed);
  2. Signed by the testator (who must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind); and
  3. Signed by 2 witnesses who were present to witness the execution of the document by the maker and who also witnessed each other sign the document (preferably the witnesses should be "disinterested parties", that is not beneficiaries under the Will, although this is not a technical requirement).

Additionally, if you want to use an on-line form get one that has been specifically drafted with your state law in mind. If you don't want to go to the expense of paying an attorney to draft your Will that's fine.  But if you write your own or use a form, it may be worth the minimal cost of having an attorney at least review them. You want to make sure that not only have all technical requirements been met but that the content of your Wills are legally sufficient. Bottom line, you want the assurance of having your estates distributed according to your wishes. 

Note: You should consider using self-proving affidavits (the on-line forms may include one). Such an affidavit is signed by the 2 witnesses, under penalty of perjury, who observed the testator sign the Will and heard them state that it was theirWill.  Once this affidavit is executed it makes it unnecessary for the witnesses to appear in court to affirm the Will’s validity after death. This saves the beneficiaries and witnesses considerable inconvenience. It also gives a Will an extra layer of authentication that allows a probate court to easily accept it as the true Will of the testator. It can help beneficiaries avoid a long and costly probate process.


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