Forbes has an interesting article, Careful, Thoughtful Drafting Essential in Estate Planning. It provides an interesting glimpse into do-it-yourself estate plans with the advice of an attorney.
In California, a person can draft their own will in their own handwriting and can even draft a “statutory will” that is a fill-in-the blanks will (there are certain rules and exceptions to drafting your own wills). However, the advice of an attorney can be essential in drafting important documents to ensure property gets passed on properly to the people you want.
If a will is found to be invalid, California’ intestacy laws will apply, which may go against your original wishes. The article highlights the issue of leaving a blank on a form will and how it can cause a large problem. In this case, an heir died prior to the will drafter causing a dispute between the deceased’s brother and her nieces from another brother. There was also an issue of a handwritten codicil, or amendment to a will.
If the parties had spoken to an attorney when drafting their estate planning documents, they could have saved money and time that occurred during the legal dispute to determine who would receive the estate. The article highlights why spending a little money upfront can save significant legal bills in the future.