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Texas Will Laws

A Last Will and Testament is a secure way to distribute your property or assets to your family, heirs, and beneficiaries after your death. In your will you can name an executor whose main roles are to manage your estate, pay expenses and taxes, distribute your estate as you outline in the will, and pay your debts. In Texas just like in other states, there are certain requirements that your Will must meet to be considered valid.  

A Will Must Be In Writing

For a Will to be valid it must be in writing and must be signed by the testator and by two witnesses.  The two witnesses must sign the Will in the testator’s presence. For the most part it is recommended that the witnesses signing the Will should not have any “interest” in or be beneficiaries of the Will. But in Texas you can have an interested witness because that does not invalidate a Will. In Texas there are two types of written wills:

  • An attested Will: It is a Will that is mostly typewritten but still has to be signed by the person making the Will or by someone representing the creator of the will.  Two witnesses over the age of 14 must sign the Will in the presence of the testator.
  • Holographic Will: This is a Will that is handwritten by the testator in the testator’s handwriting. This Will does not have to be signed by witnesses but must be signed by the testator.

Legal Capacity, Testamentary Capacity, And Testamentary Intent

Texas Will RequirementsA Will has to have legal capacity for it to be valid. This means that you as the Will’s creator must be 18 years of age or older, you are or have been married, or you are a member of the armed forces of the United States. Testamentary capacity simply means that you must be of “sound mind” when you are creating a Will for it to be valid. In other words you need to be aware that you are making a Will and what the effect of that Will is going to be.  

Your will also has testamentary capacity, which means that you comprehend the extent and nature of your property when you are making the Will, and you understand your next of kin and the natural objects of their bounty ( your relatives and loved ones). If your Will does not meet all these requirements, your property will be distributed according to a statutory formula and not according to your wishes.

Statutory Formula For Distributing Wealth

If a person dies without a Will, a distinction will be made for your separate property and your community property. Separate property is property acquired by the deceased prior to their marriage and community property is property acquired while the deceased was married. If the deceased was married with children, then the surviving spouse will get a third of the personal property while the children take two thirds of the personal property. The surviving spouse will take all the community property and the land. There are formulas for situations where the deceased was single with children and so on. 

 

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