In Santa Clara, California, many of the issues 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 Clara, California wills and trusts lawyer can help you avoid these problems.
Most of the issues that plague wills stem from failure on the part of the drafter to comply with the required formalities. These requirements aren't terribly confusing, 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 Clara, 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.
If they are permitted in your states, a holographic will can be a good option, in some cases. If you do not have a considerable amount of money and property that you want to pass on, and your devises are going to be very simple (regular gifts to just a few people), a holographic will can suffice. However, you should seek the advice of a lawyer beforehand, and know that it is almost always a better option to have a will accompanied by all the required formalities.
How Can A Santa Clara, California Lawyer Help?
Because there are specific formalities which must be followed in drafting wills, it's always a good idea to seek the help of a Santa Clara, California attorney in drafting your will. Even if your will is going to be very simple, and you have the formalities all figured out, mistakes can be made.