The primary purpose of a will is to give instructions on how to dispose of the decedent’s property and how to care for minor children after death. A will is a legal document; therefore, specific legal requirements must be followed for the will to be valid.
The person making the will, known as the “testator,” must meet the following requirements:
- He must be at least 18 years old (or married or serving in the armed forces);
- He must be of sound mind at the time of executing the will;
- He must have the intention, at the time of executing the will, to dispose of his property upon death; and
- He must not be coerced, forced, or deceived by someone else into executing the will.
In Texas, a will may be either handwritten (“holographic”) or typewritten (“formal”), as a Sugarland estate attorney can explain. If handwritten, the entire will must be written in the testator’s handwriting.
Additionally, valid signatures and witnesses are required. The testator must sign the will or direct someone to sign it on his behalf in his presence. Two witnesses, 14 years or older, must sign the will in the presence of the testator attesting to the fact that this is intended by the testator to be his will.
After execution, a will can be amended due to a change in the testator’s circumstances or wishes. Either a part of the will can be changed by the use of a document called a “codicil.” The will can also be revoked in its entirety, typically with the execution of a new will.
Upon the testator’s death, the will is submitted to the probate court. If the court determines the will to be valid under Texas law, the court issues “Letters of Testamentary” to the executor named in the will. It is the executor’s duty to follow the instructions contained in the will.
If the court finds the will to be invalid, under Texas law, the estate of the decedent may be treated as if there were no will at all (which means the decedent died “intestate”). In such a case, the estate is disposed of as prescribed by law, without any consideration given to the wishes of the decedent.
A consultation with an experienced Sugarland estate attorney can help ensure you create a legally valid Texas will, allowing you the peace of mind that your wishes will be fulfilled. Contact our estate attorney us today to schedule a free initial consultation.