To create a valid will in Texas, a testator (the person making the will) must meet certain requirements and follow specific formalities in order for a will to be considered valid.
- Age and capacity. The testator must be at least 18 years old, married, or a member of the armed forces to make a valid will in Texas. The testator must also have testamentary capacity, which means they must be of sound mind and understand the nature and extent of their property, the natural objects of their bounty (meaning their family members and others who would typically inherit from them), and the disposition they are making in the will.
- Written. Texas law requires that all wills be in writing. The most common type of written will is one which is typed and signed by the testator.
- Signed by testator. The testator must sign the will or direct someone else to sign it on their behalf in their presence.
- Signed by witnesses. A will must also be signed by two disinterested witnesses who are at least 14 years old in the presence of the testator. For a will to be considered “self-proving” in Texas, which helps expedite the probate process, the testator and the witnesses should also execute a self-proving affidavit in front of a notary public, which will be attached to the will.
- Intent. The will must express the testator’s intent to distribute their property upon their death.
Texas law also recognizes holographic (handwritten) wills, which are valid if they are entirely written in the testator’s handwriting and signed by the testator. Holographic wills do not require witnesses, but they may be more susceptible to challenges and might not include all the necessary provisions to effectively distribute the estate.
It’s important to note that Texas law does not recognize oral wills (also known as nuncupative wills). Meeting the requirements for a valid will in Texas can help ensure that the testator’s wishes are carried out upon their death and that the will is less likely to be contested during the probate process. To ensure that your will meets all the necessary legal requirements, it’s a good idea to consult an experienced estate planning attorney with experience drafting wills in accordance with Texas law.
It is important to have a will for several reasons:
- Control over asset distribution. A will allows you to specify how your assets will be distributed after your death. If you die without a will, Texas law will determine who inherits your assets, which may not be in accordance with your wishes.
- Avoiding guardianship for minors. Gifts to minor children may require the probate court to appoint a guardian for each child’s estate to receive and safeguard the gift until the child becomes an adult. A will can be drafted to appoint a trustee for any minor children to manage any property they receive under the will.
- Avoiding family disputes. A will can help avoid family disputes and minimize the likelihood of legal challenges to your will. By specifying your wishes clearly in a legally binding document, you can reduce the potential for disagreements among your heirs.
- Minimizing estate taxes. If you have a large estate, a well-crafted will can help minimize estate taxes and ensure that your heirs receive the maximum inheritance possible.
Overall, having a will in Texas is crucial to ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are taken care of after you pass away.
To schedule a consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys at Aldrich Law Firm, PLLC, please call us today at (210) 418-1150 or send us a message by completing the intake form on our website.