In San Mateo County, California, many of the complications 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 intricate 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 knowledgeable San Mateo County, California wills and trusts lawyer can help you avoid these problems.

Most of the complications that plague wills stem from failure on the part of the drafter to comply with the required formalities. These requirements aren't terribly perplexing, but they have to be followed to the letter if a will is to be valid. Typically, 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 San Mateo County, California

In some (but certainly not all) states, "holographic wills" can sometimes be treated as valid wills. A holographic will is just a will that is written entirely in the testator's own handwriting. They do not need to be witnessed in order to be valid.

Holographic wills are normally construed very broadly. Knowing that it was not written by an expert, a court will typically look at the common definition of words, and use other common-sense principles when it comes to interpreting a holographic will. This is necessary to avoid conflicts, and increase the chances that the testator's wishes are honored.

You should be aware that not all states recognize holographic wills. In such states, you can of course still handwrite your will if you want. But for the will to be valid, it has to be accompanied by all the formalities (including witnesses) needed for any other will.

If your state recognizes them, a holographic will might be a reasonable option if you have a very small estate, and wish to make very simple devises. However, it is never a bad idea to at least have an attorney review your will for completeness and clarity, even if you aren't having the attorney draft it from scratch.

How Can A San Mateo County, California Lawyer Help?

Because of the formalities that must accompany most wills, it might be advisable to have a San Mateo County, California attorney help you draft it.