Creating A Last Will And Testament In Texas: The How-To Manual

Daren Brown
By Daren Brown | March 21, 2019
Creating A Last Will And Testament: The How-To Manual
There are a few general guidelines when drafting a last will and testament in Texas. For starters:
  • You must be at least age 18
  • You have to be of sound mind
  • You can’t be influenced by others to sign a will
  • You can’t sign a will under duress

The rest of the process comes down to technical and state-specific details.

Do I Need Witnesses For My Will In Texas?

In Texas, there are a couple of ways the drafting process can work. First, if you are drafting a technically official last will and testament, two witnesses are required to physically watch you sign and date the document. These parties do not have to read the will, but it is extremely important that they are not named as beneficiaries in the document. This is a legal precautionary measure to protect your best interest.

Additionally, one of your witnesses can be designated as your probate representative; the person who authenticates your will to the court after you die. However, this step can be skipped if the witnesses agree to sign an affidavit stating the will is authentic in front of a notary republic.

The second drafting option is unique. Texas honors holographic, or hand-written wills, in addition to the official witnessed documents. These apply in emergency situations, like military service or terminally ill individuals, but as long as you follow the same guidelines listed in the introduction, you can draft a handwritten will at any time. These documents do not require witnesses if they include a self-proved statement.

It is a good idea to have your will notarized or self-proved so that the authentication process is sped up.

What Else Should I Know When Drafting A Will?

When drafting a will, you want to consider three things:

  • How much your assets are worth
  • How you want those assets divided
  • Who gets what property

Remember, your final expenses, including debt and taxes, are paid first. The remainder is split amongst your designated beneficiaries. This does not include property in other states or non-probate assets; those are handled separately.

You do not need to officially file the will with a state court, unless it is part of the state law, but you do need to make sure that the executor of your estate knows where the document is when the time comes.

Once again, it is not required, but it is a good idea to walk through this process with a lawyer; especially if you have questions about the value and dissemination of your property.

The will and estate planning lawyers at Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C. in Amarillo, Texas are qualified to act as a knowledgeable third party who can help draft these documents and act as representatives and executors. Get objective legal services and advice today.

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Topics: Estate Planning