Everyone in Texas should have a will, regardless of their age or their health. While many people assume that it only makes sense to work with an estate planning lawyer on a will as you get older or when you learn you are sick, nobody can plan precisely for the future. As such, it is critical to have a valid will through which you can clarify how you want your assets distributed. Without a valid will, if you pass away unexpectedly, not only will you lose the ability to determine how your property is distributed, but your family members will have to go through a difficult process involving Texas intestacy laws.
Whether you are planning to work with a Texas estate planning lawyer on your will soon, or you simply want more information, the following are five things you should know about wills in Texas.
- Texas Law Has Certain Requirements for a Will to Be Valid
In order for a will to be valid under Texas law, it must meet certain requirements. First, you must be at least 18 years old, or you must be married or in the military. Then, you must be “of sound mind,” which means you must have the mental capacity to create a will that reflects your intentions. In general, you must understand that you are writing a will, you must have the intent to write a will in order to clarify how you want your assets distributed in the event of your death, and you must have a clear sense of the assets you own that will be distributed to your heirs through the will. Your will should also be signed and dated, and it must be witnessed by two people.
- You Can Revoke a Prior Will in Texas
As long as you remain of sound mind, you can always revoke a prior will in Texas. If you do create a new will, you should make certain that any previous wills are clearly and expressly revoked in writing in your new will. In addition to making clear in writing your intention to revoke previous wills, you should also destroy existing copies of previous wills.
- Handwritten Wills May Be Valid
Generally speaking, Texas law recognizes formal attested wills—the type of will described above. In addition, Texas courts recognize handwritten wills, which are also known as holographic wills. Unlike a formal will that meets the requirements of Texas law, holographic wills do not require a witness. For a holographic will to be recognized, it must be written completely in the testator’s own handwriting, and it must be dated. However, you should know that it can be easier to challenge or contest holographic wills given that there will not be official witnesses to confirm that the requirements of valid will making in Texas have been met.
- Spoken Wills Are No Longer Valid Under Texas Law
Spoken wills, also known as oral wills or nuncupative wills, used to be recognized in Texas. However, you should not anticipate that a Texas court will recognize this type of will as valid.
- If the Validity of Your Will is Not Recognized, Your Estate Will Be Distributed According to Texas Intestacy Laws
If your will is determined to be invalid under Texas law, then your assets will pass according to Texas intestacy laws, or the laws of intestate succession. When a person dies without a valid will, they are known to die intestate.
Contact a Texas Estate Planning Lawyer Today
Texas residents both young and old should have a valid will drafted. While a handwritten will might be sufficient in some circumstances, as we mentioned above, it is always a good idea to create a formal will with the assistance of an experienced Texas estate planning attorney. By working with an attorney on your will, you will have the best chance of ensuring that the terms of the will are valid and that it will not be subject to any unexpected contests. Contact The Fetty Firm, PC today to speak with an estate planning attorney about getting started on your will.