What Does it Take to Have a Valid Will in Texas?
A will, sometimes referred to as a last will and testament, is a document intended to direct the distribution of a person's estate upon his or her death. Simply writing down one's wishes, however, may not be enough to get the job done.
Though requirements for a valid will vary from state to state, Texas recognized two types of written wills. A handwritten will must be written in the testator's handwriting and signed by the testator. (The testator is the person making the will.) This type of will is known as a holographic will and is generally recognized in Texas as a valid will.
If the will is not handwritten by the testator, then the will must be signed by the testator and two credible witnesses over the age of 14.
The requirements stated above are a summary of the basic signature rules. Equally important are the presence of certain other factors, such as legal capacity, testamentary capacity and testamentary intent.
Legal capacity for making a will in Texas exists when a testator is over age 18 years, is lawfully married, or is a member of the U.S. armed forces when making a will.
Testamentary capacity for making a will in Texas exists when the testator is of sound mind when making a will. A person is of sound mind if he or she has the mental ability to understand the business he or she is in, the effect of making a will, the nature and extent of his or her assets, the existence of family members, and the dispositive effect of the will on his or her assets.
Testamentary intent for making a will in Texas exists when the testator intends the document constituting his or her will to make a revocable disposition of property upon his or her death.
An important note regarding signatures is that Texas law allows a person making a will to add a “self-proving affidavit” to the will. A self-proving affidavit is signed by the person making the will and two witnesses before a notary public. The effect of adding the self-proving affidavit to a will is to negate the need for a hearing and testimony to establish the fact the will was signed by the testator. Including a self-proving affidavit can save time and money when the executor seeks to admit the will to probate in the future.
If you have questions regarding the validity of a will made in Texas, consult or whether a will made in another state will be valid under Texas law, consult an experienced Bryan-College Station, Texas estate planning attorney. The Peterson Law Group can provide assistance and help make sure your assets are protected. Call today for an appointment at 979-703-7014 or 936-337-4681 or fill out our online contact form.