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What is a will, and do I need one in Texas?

Posted by Chris Peterson | Aug 25, 2023

When it comes to planning for the future, one of the most crucial legal documents you should consider is a will. A will, also known as a last will and testament, is a legal instrument that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your assets and the care of your dependents after your passing. If you're a Texas resident, you might be wondering whether you need a will and what the implications are for your estate. In this blog post, we'll delve into the significance of a will and explore whether you should have one in Texas.

What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that allows you to communicate your preferences for how your property, assets, and personal belongings should be distributed after your death. It can also include instructions for who should be the guardian of your minor children, as well as any specific wishes you have for your funeral or other end-of-life arrangements. Without a will, your assets may be distributed according to the state's intestacy laws, which might not align with your true intentions.

Why Do You Need a Will?

Creating a will is not just for the wealthy or the elderly; it's a tool that everyone can benefit from. Here's why having a will is important:

Asset Distribution: A will provides you with control over who receives your property and assets. It ensures that your loved ones, friends, or charitable organizations you care about are taken care of as you wish.

Guardianship of Minors: If you have children under the age of 18, a will allows you to appoint a guardian who will take care of them in case both parents pass away. This ensures your children are raised by someone you trust.

Avoiding Intestacy Laws: Without a will, the state's laws will determine how your assets are distributed, which might not align with your wishes. Creating a will helps prevent any potential disputes among family members.

Minimize Family Conflicts: A clear and well-drafted will can reduce the chances of disagreements among family members regarding the distribution of your estate.

Funeral and Burial Instructions: You can include specific instructions for your funeral, burial, or cremation in your will, saving your loved ones from making difficult decisions during a challenging time.

Do You Need a Will in Texas?

While Texas does not mandate having a will, having one can greatly simplify the estate administration process and ensure your wishes are respected. Texas has its own laws regarding wills and probate, and having a valid will in place can make the process smoother for your beneficiaries. Here are a few points to consider:

Community Property State: Texas is a community property state, which means that property acquired during marriage is generally considered jointly owned by both spouses. A will can help clarify how community property is distributed upon the death of one spouse.

Independent Administration: If your will includes an independent administration clause, the probate process can be less burdensome and expensive for your loved ones, as it allows for a streamlined approach to estate administration.

Testamentary Trusts: If you have specific desires about how your assets should be managed and distributed, a will can establish testamentary trusts that ensure your wishes are carried out.


In conclusion, a will is a fundamental legal document that gives you control over the distribution of your assets and the care of your loved ones after your passing. Regardless of your age or financial status, creating a will is a prudent step in securing your family's future and minimizing potential conflicts. In Texas, having a will can be particularly beneficial due to the state's unique laws and provisions related to community property and independent administration. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you draft a clear and comprehensive will that reflects your wishes and safeguards your legacy.

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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