Creating a last will and testament is an incredibly important act, as the document can ensure that your estate and affairs are handled as you wish upon your death.
If you die without a valid will in Texas, the probate court will step in and disburse your estate in accordance with state’s intestacy succession laws. As a result, your assets could end up in the wrong hands – and the person you would prefer to raise your minor children may not be the person chosen by the court.
Laws regarding the preparation of a last will and testament vary by state. In Texas, a will is valid if the following requirements are met.
To create a valid will, the testator – or the person for whom the will applies – must be of legal age. In Texas, if you’re over the age of 18, lawfully married or a member of the U.S. military, you have the legal capacity to prepare a will.
For your will to be considered valid in Texas, you must have the mental ability to understand the will preparation process. Referred to as testamentary capacity, having a sound mind means that you realize you’re creating a will and what the effects will be after your death.
Testamentary intent is another requirement for a valid will in Texas. In other words, at the time of signing, you must intend on making a plan for the distribution of your estate in the event of your death. And, you must voluntarily sign the legal document – if you’re under duress or coerced into signing a will, it won’t be considered valid.
Unlike many other states, Texas recognizes three types of wills as valid. However, each type has specific requirements, legal formalities that must be followed.
A nuncupative or oral will is only valid if it is created when a person is on their deathbed at home, at a place where they have resided for at least ten days before the date of the will or any location if they became ill and died away from home. If the value of the estate is over $30, three credible witnesses must be present to hear the final wishes.
A holographic will is one that is handwritten and signed by the testator. In Texas, there is no legal requirement for attesting witnesses or to have the document notarized – it just must be completely written by the person whose estate is being disbursed in the document.
An attested will is not handwritten – the document is typically prepared by an attorney in typewritten form. To be valid in Texas, it must be signed by the testator and by two credible witnesses above the age of 14 who are present at the time the testator signs.
Would you like expert assistance with estate planning or talk to an experienced attorney about making a will in Texas? The legal team at Schultz and Kellar, serving northern Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area, can ensure that your affairs are in order. For a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your last will and testament, contact our Southlake office today.