A will is a legal document that is used to provide instructions on what should happen to property after a person passes away. A will can also name guardians for minor children, provide for pets, name an executor of the person's estate and more.
Needless to say, wills are important, no matter how large or small the assets involved are. Our court system holds wills in the highest regard so that a deceased person's wishes can be respected whenever possible.
For that reason, Texas courts even accepts wills that are handwritten, as long as they are signed by the creator and are entirely in his or her handwriting.
However, handwritten wills, or "holographic wills" as they are known, may be challenged by people who do not agree with what they say or how they were made.
Wills can be challenged in probate court, also known as contested, for several reasons, including:
Undue influence: This involves a person who uses their relationship or position to pressure a vulnerable adult into making certain decisions in the will.
Mental incapacity: This can occur when the person writing the will does not actually understand what he or she is doing because of dementia or another mental incapacity.
Existence of a subsequent will: If more than one will exists, there could be a disagreement over which will has precedent over the others.
Fraud: This involves any kind of wrongful or illegal deception involving the will or the person who created the will, such as if a will was fake or forged.
Making a handwritten will more durable
If a person is taking the time to create a will, then he or she wants to make sure that it will be considered valid by the court. Otherwise, family members and friends could spend significant time and money fighting over it in court.
In addition to making sure the will is signed and entirely in his or her handwriting, it should also contain the following:
- The will should name an executor of the estate
- The will should be titled "last will and testament"
- The will should have an affidavit declaring that the person creating it is of sound mind
To have even more confidence in a will's validity, get help executing it from an estate planning lawyer.
An estate planning lawyer can also help contest a will that is believed to be invalid.