In Texas, there are requirements for a Will to be valid:
- The testator must have legal capacity, which means the testator must be 18 years or older, must be legally married, or must be a current member of the armed forces;
- The testator must have testamentary capacity, which means you must be of “sound mind.” Texas courts have ruled that a testator has testamentary capacity if the testator has the mental ability to understand:
- How all these elements relate so as to form an orderly plan for the disposition of his or her property;
- The fact that he or she is disposing his or her assets; and
- The persons who are the natural objects of his or her bounty (e.g. his or her relatives);
- The nature and extent of his or her property;
- The effect of making a Will;
- The fact that he or she is making a Will;
- The testator must have intent, which means you intend to make a writing that dictates how your property will be distributed upon your death; and
- The Will must be executed with certain formalities. What formalities are required depends on the type of Will that is executed.
- An attested Will is a Will that is not wholly in the testator’s handwriting. To be valid, it must be:
- Signed by the testator or by another person at the direction of the testator (both must be physically present with each other and the witnesses at the time of the signing);
- Signed in the testator’s physical presence by at least two credible witnesses who are at least 14 years old; and
- If the Will includes a self-proving affidavit, the testator, witnesses, and a notary all have to sign the self-proving affidavit in each other’s physical presence (though an online notary may sign via video-conference in real time if identities are verified by a third party).
- A holographic Will must be written wholly in the handwriting of the testator, with no typed or graphic information anywhere within the Will. It must be signed by the testator, but there is no requirement for a notary or witnesses.
If you fail to execute a valid Will, your property will pass via Texas’s intestate succession laws, which can be costly and time-consuming for those you leave behind.
To learn more about Wills and estate planning, contact an estate planning attorney at The Jones Law Firm PC today.