A lot of the pitfalls that plague wills and estate plans in Bellingham, Washington, 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 massive 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.
Nonetheless, even if the will is comparatively simple, some problems which are very easy to avoid can still complicate the process. A reliable Bellingham, Washington 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. 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 cautiously, because if they have any direct interest in the will, they won't count as valid witnesses.
Holographic Wills in Bellingham, Washington
In some states, testators are permitted 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.
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 legitimate, it has to be accompanied by all the formalities (including witnesses) required for any other will.
If your state permits them, a holographic will might be a good way to go in some cases. For instance, 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. Nonetheless, even in cases like this, it's never a bad idea to make a will with the help of a lawyer.
How Can A Bellingham, Washington Lawyer Help?
Because there are specific formalities which must be followed in drafting wills, it's always a good idea to seek the guidance of a Bellingham, Washington 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.