Drafting a last will and testament is one of the most important things you can do in the probate process. Without one, Texas intestacy laws will govern the management and distribution of your estate. This could delay and reduce the inheritance your family receives once you have passed. It could also lead to in-fighting over your estate.
These are just some of the reasons why you should take the time to write your will. However, if you do not take the time to ensure your will meets the requirements of Texas law, your family could still face many legal challenges.
At Sheehan Law, PLLC, we have helped families across central Texas with their probate and estate planning needs. We understand what it takes to create a strong will that will hold up under the scrutiny of the law. Here are some of the Texas will requirements you will need to meet in order to avoid these challenges.
Part of meeting the legal requirements of a will is understanding what a will is. A testator writes a will to establish his or her wishes in regards to what happens to his or her estate. This legal document identifies the executor of the estate, and this person carries out the testator’s wishes. The document further outlines the distribution of the estate and the beneficiaries who will inherit.
In Texas, there are two types of wills:
Texas once recognized an oral or nuncupative will. However, Texas courts have not accepted such wills since September 1, 2017. It is also important to understand that a living will is not a last will and testament. A living will only governs a person’s end-of-life choices. It takes effect in the event that the person becomes incapacitated and/or unable to make decisions for themselves. A living will does not apply to your property or estate.
For a will to be valid in Texas you must be legally capable of making a will. You must also be of sound mind and intend to make a document that distributes your property after your passing. Here’s a further breakdown:
If you follow the above requirements, it will be easier for a judge to validate your will. However, probating your will could face different legal challenges based on how you write your will. If there is reason to believe you were not of sound mind when you wrote your will, or that you wrote it due to coercion, a judge may invalidate your will. Beneficiaries may challenge a holographic will for these very reasons. An attested will gives more protections against these challenges, especially when prior wills exist.
What will you choose will depend on your situation and circumstances. If you wish to learn more about how Texas probates wills, check out our blog series on probating wills in Texas. An experienced Austin will attorney can help guide you to the best option for your situation. Give us a call at (512) 355-0155 or fill out our online contact form if you need help getting your estate in order.