In Santa Barbara, California, many of the problems 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 an 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 Santa Barbara, California wills and trusts lawyer can help you avoid these problems.
Most of the problems that plague wills stem from failure on the part of the drafter to comply with the required formalities. These requirements aren't terribly complex, 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 Santa Barbara, 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.
But you should be aware that not all states permit holographic wills. In these states, you are still permitted to hand write your will if you so desire, but they must be accompanied by all the formalities required by the law of that state.
Making a holographic will is rarely the ideal option. But it's sometimes the only option. If you find yourself suddenly needing to make a will, a holographic will is certainly an option, if they're recognized in your state. If possible, though, you should still speak with an attorney, who can review your holographic will and suggest any fixes that will make it easier to meet your goals.
How Can A Santa Barbara, California Lawyer Help?
Because of the various required formalities that accompany a will, it's not a bad idea to have a knowledgeable Santa Barbara, California attorney help you draft your will, even if it is relatively simple.