Texas Requirements for a Valid Will
Creating a will is a crucial step in estate planning, but it’s essential to understand the legal requirements to ensure your will is valid in the state of Texas. A will that doesn’t meet these requirements can lead to complications during the probate process, potentially causing emotional and financial strain on your loved ones. Read on to learn about the requirements for a valid will in Texas, and contact Houston estate planning attorney Leigh B. Meineke to discuss making, revising or revoking a will in conformance with Texas law.
Age and Mental Capacity
In Texas, the testator—the person creating the will—must be at least 18 years old, a lawfully married individual, or a member of the armed forces. Additionally, the testator must be of “sound mind,” meaning they understand the extent of their property and the implications of creating a will.
While oral wills are recognized in some states, Texas generally requires a will to be in writing. This can be handwritten or typed, but it must be a physical document. Digital or video wills are not considered valid in Texas.
The testator must sign the will for it to be valid. If the testator is physically unable to sign, another person can sign on their behalf, provided this is done in the testator’s presence and under their direction.
Texas law requires that at least two credible witnesses, who are at least 14 years old, must witness the signing of the will by the testator (or person directed by the testator) and must themselves sign the will in the testator’s presence. These witnesses should not be beneficiaries in the will to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
While notarization is not a requirement for a valid will in Texas, it can expedite the probate process. A will that includes a notarized affidavit signed by the testator and witnesses confirms the will’s validity and is considered “self-proving.” This eliminates the need for witnesses to testify in court during probate.
Texas is one of the few states that recognize holographic (handwritten) wills. For a holographic will to be valid, it must be entirely written, dated, and signed by the testator in the testator’s handwriting. No witnesses are required for holographic wills, but the handwriting must be verified during probate.
Revocation and Amendments
A will can be revoked or amended by the testator at any time, provided they are of sound mind. This can be done by creating a new will, drafting a codicil to amend the existing will, or physically destroying the original document. A codicil should follow the same signature and witness requirements of a will to be valid.
Once your will is complete, store it in a safe, easily accessible place. Inform a trusted individual—such as your executor—about its location to ensure it can be found after your passing.
Contact Leigh B. Meineke Law Firm
Creating a valid will in Texas involves meeting specific age, mental capacity, and documentation requirements. While the process may seem straightforward, overlooking even a minor detail can render your will invalid, leading to potential legal disputes among your heirs. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to guide you through this critical task.
By understanding and adhering to Texas’ requirements for a valid will, you can ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes, providing peace of mind for you and your loved ones. In Houston, call Leigh B. Meineke at 832-706-0244 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.