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The ABCs of Making a Will – Three Big Requirements

Posted by Chris Peterson | Feb 18, 2013 | 0 Comments

The ABCs of Making a Will – Three Big Requirements

BrainThere's not much point in making a will if it won't stand up to a challenge after you're gone. Dying with an invalid will has the same effect as dying with no will — your assets will be distributed based on a standardized method under Texas law.

To make sure your last will and testament are valid and effective, be sure you understand the following three requirements. Likewise, if you are wondering whether a specific last will and testament makes the grade, check the will against these requirements. When we use the word “testator,” we are referring to the person who makes a will.

First, a testator must have legal capacity to make a will. In most cases, legal capacity means the testator is an adult when he or she makes a will. The age of adulthood in Texas is 18, but sometimes a person can attain adulthood before age 18. For instance, a person is considered an adult if he or she has been legally married or if he or she is enlisted in the U.S. military.

Second, a testator must have testamentary capacity, which means the testator is of sound mind. A person is generally considered to be of sound mind if he or she understands the business in which they are engaging, the nature and extent of their property, and the fact that they are making a revocable disposition of their assets. If a testator can acknowledge these elements and how they relate to one another, then he or she can meaningfully participate in making a will.

Finally, a testator must have testamentary intent. This means when the testator signs a will, he or she intends to make a disposition of his or her property to take effect at the time of death. We can't look into someone's mind in the present, let alone in the past, but we can infer intent from a person's actions. Generally speaking, testamentary intent will be presumed by the presence of sound mind and capacity, unless someone can show evidence to a court that the testator did not intend to make a will. An example could be if a testator signed a will believing he or she were signing something other than a will.

To ensure your loved ones receive the benefits you intend upon your death, contact an experienced Bryan-College Station, Texas estate planning attorney. Likewise, if you are wondering whether a particular will is valid, schedule a meeting so we can discuss the facts of your situation and recommend your next steps. Call us today at 979-703-7014 or fill out our online contact form.

About the Author

Chris Peterson

Chris Peterson is the owner of Peterson Law Group. He practices primarily in the areas of wills, trusts and estate planning; probate and trust administration; elder law; and business law. Chris is also the owner of Brazos 1031 Exchange Company.


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