As you already probably know, a will is a powerful estate and another assets-planning tool for those who are willing to dictate on their own terms how and to whom their property and assets transfer after their death. In Texas, when a person dies with a legitimate will, the state probate court oversees the will’s administration and the distribution of the decedent’s assets to any named beneficiaries.
When composing a will, your will must comply with Texas state law. Otherwise, the probate court might invalidate it and decide to apply the state’s default laws of intestate succession, which might clash with your initial intentions.
If you’re not sure that you can draft the will on your own, you can always contact an experienced family law attorney like www.williamwalshlaw.com for assistance, or continue reading below as in this brief article; we’ll go through all essential aspects of composing a legitimate will in The Lone Star State.
Personal Requirements for Writing a Will in Texas
First things first, there are several prerequisites that you need to meet in order to write and execute a valid will in Texas. So, under Texas Probate Code section 251.001, each person who’s about to draft a will must be of sound mind, which essentially means that they know what they’re composing and have never been deemed incapable in a previous legal proceeding. Also, each person who wants to create a will must be at least 18 years of age, or either a member of the U.S. armed forces, or legally married.
The Core Elements of Each Valid Will
Each valid will must meet the three general requirements in Texas. Primarily, the will needs to be in writing, because as of 2007, Texas no longer accepts or recognizes oral wills as legitimate.
Furthermore, the creator of the will needs to sign their will in order for the will to be legitimate. If they can’t sign the will, another person can sign on behalf of the will’s creator in their presence and under their direction.
Finally, excluding situations in which the will is completely in the testator’s handwriting, two attesting witnesses who are at least 14 years of age must watch the testator personally sign their will and then sign the will themselves.
Writing a Will in Texas
If you and the will you plan to create meet all the conditions set forth by Texas State laws, you can proceed and take the following steps to compose your will successfully.
Explicitly Indicate That You Intend the Document to Be Your Final Will
On the top of the document, either type or handwrite “Last Will of (your full name).” Right under it, you should also include the date, your address, and a declaration that you’re of sound mind and body.
Provide a Full Inventory of Your Property
It would be best to utilize the bulk of the will to assign your assets and property to your selected beneficiaries. In your will, you should list almost any assets you possess, including real estate, money, cars, and other personal belongings. The only untransferable assets with a will are those that already have beneficiaries like insurance policies, property held in trust, investment accounts, or any property that’s owned jointly, like a marital home that both spouses own.
Designate Your Beneficiaries
Right after you write down the list of your assets, you should assign each piece of property or any other type of asset you possess to a selected beneficiary. You should also include a detailed description of the asset and the person who should receive it in your final will. For instance, if you have three houses in your will, you should explicitly describe each house and the selected person to whom it should pass.
Select and Name an Executor of Your Will
Your will’s executor is the person in charge of administering your final wishes and distributing your property according to the terms you outlined in your will. Therefore, while drafting your will, you should identify the person you’ve chosen to be the executor of your will.
Execute Your Will
Finally, to execute your will, you need to sign your will in front of two witnesses who must also sign your will in front of you. Once you’ve completed your will, you should keep it somewhere safe and let your chosen executor know where they can find the will upon your death.
No matter how dark drafting a will may sound, everyone will eventually come to that stage of their life when they need to sit down and divide their belongings. Also, as everyone’s situation is different and unique, consider meeting with a family attorney to get things clear if you have any concerns or questions about your will.