A lot of the complications that plague wills and estate plans in Norfolk, Virginia, such as contests by beneficiaries who think they got the short end, could have been avoided if the will had been better-drafted in the first place.
If your estate does not have a huge amount of assets, your assets are limited to cash and personal belongings, and you wish to leave all your property to your immediate family and friends, the process of drafting your will is likely to be fairly simple.
But even with "simple" wills, some easily-avoidable problems come up more often than they need to. A good Norfolk, Virginia attorney can help you avoid these problems with careful will preparation.
A significant percentage of the problems that prevent wills from taking effect are caused by failing to follow the required formalities in will preparation. In most states, wills need to be witnessed and signed by at least two people who have no direct interest in the matter. They also have to include a clear written statement that the document is, in fact, the testator's will. It also has to be witnessed by at least two people. Witnesses cannot be anyone who has a direct interest in the will, which includes close relatives of the testator and anyone who's named in the will.
Holographic Wills in Norfolk, Virginia
In some states, you can make what is known as a "holographic will." This is simply a will which is handwritten, in the testator's own handwriting. They do not need to be witnessed in order to be valid.
Holographic wills are typically construed very broadly. Knowing that it was not written by an expert, a court will usually 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 allows 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 Norfolk, Virginia Lawyer Help?
Because there are certain formalities which must be followed in drafting wills, it's always a good idea to seek the assistance of a Norfolk, Virginia 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.