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Can I really mess up signing my will?

Though it is not against the law in Florida to draw up your will without the assistance of an attorney, in practice doing so could put the will at risk of being partially or completely invalidated after you pass away.

A seemingly minor procedural error could be reason enough for a probate judge to toss a will at a third party’s request. This could mean that your final wishes for distributing your possessions will not be carried out.

For example, Florida has certain requirements about how you sign the will. If not carried out the way the law requires, your signature may not be treated as your own.

The signature must come at the end of the will. If the testator is unable to sign, another person must write the testator’s name at the end, in his or her presence and by his or her direction.

In addition, there must be at least two witnesses to the testator’s signing of the will. Those witnesses attest to their presence by signing the will themselves. The witnesses must both be present when signing the will, along with the testator.

To make it even more clear that the witnesses saw the testator sign the will, it is a good idea to have them sign a “self-proving” affidavit before a notary public. This affidavit can later be submitted to the court in place of having the witnesses physically appear testify that the will is valid.

As we said above, it is possible to write and execute your will without the help and advice of a probate attorney. But hiring a lawyer is the best way to avoid costly mistakes, and to ensure your wishes will be honored.

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