In Portola Valley, California, many of the pitfalls that sometimes come with a will, such as would-be beneficiaries challenging its validity, or devises which don't make it clear who gets what (resulting in costly and time-consuming litigation) can be avoided if the will is well-drafted in the first place.
Drafting a will doesn't need to be a convoluted or particularly expensive process. If you have a small to moderate amount of assets (limited to a home, a car, and a few bank/investment accounts), and don't need to set up trusts or anything similar, you can probably have a will written in just a couple days, for a relatively small fee.
However, even if the will is comparatively simple, some problems which are very easy to avoid can still complicate the process. A brilliant Portola Valley, California wills and trusts lawyer can help you avoid these problems.
Most of the pitfalls that plague wills stem from failure on the part of the drafter to comply with the required formalities. These requirements aren't terribly difficult, but they have to be followed to the letter if a will is to be valid. Normally, wills have to be witnessed and signed by at least 2 people, and it must include a clear statement that the document is, in fact, a will. You should choose the witnesses carefully, because if they have any direct interest in the will, they won't count as valid witnesses.
Holographic Wills in Portola Valley, California
In some states, testators are authorized to make "holographic wills." This is a will which the testator hand-writes, in his or her own handwriting. Such wills do not need to have any witnesses to be given effect.
If holographic wills are valid in your state, courts will, as with any will, have to figure out what is really being said, and resolve ambiguities. Because holographic wills are not always written under ideal conditions, they have to be interpreted very liberally, so they can be given effect and not fail for technical reasons.
You should, however, know that not all states authorize holographic wills. In such states, you can still hand write your will if you want, but all the formalities, such as witnesses, must be present.
If your state authorizes them, a holographic will might be a good way to go in some cases. For example, if you don't have an unusually large amount of money, and simply want to leave your assets to close family members, or even to a single person (such as a spouse), it probably wouldn't be a problem. However, even in cases like this, it's never a bad idea to make a will with the help of a lawyer.
How Can A Portola Valley, California Lawyer Help?
Because of the formalities required in drafting wills, it's never a bad idea to have a brilliant Portola Valley, California attorney help in making your will. Even if your will is quite simple, and you have all the formalities figured out, it's still easy to make mistakes without a good once-over by a professional.