Last Will and Testament Requirements in Texas
You might think that as long as you have a will, your estate will be distributed the way you want it to be. But if you don’t have a valid will in Texas, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. It’s established law in Texas that valid will must be In writing, signed by a testator in person, and signed by at least two witnesses in the presence of the testator who are both over the age of 14. But what does it mean to “sign” a will? A new Texas case holds that simply initialing the will could be good enough to meet the execution requirement.
Legal Terminology: Attested Will
Attested will: requires the signature of the testator and the signature of two or more witnesses who are not beneficiaries of the will.
Probate Law Case
Jones v. Jones (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] March 29, 2022, no pet. history).
Facts & Procedural History: Holographic (Written or Handwritten) Wills
Decedent’s wife (Beneficiary) filed an application for probate of an attested will, which was contested by Decedent’s son from a previous marriage (Contestant). The trial court denied Testator’s application, declaring that the will lacked Decedent’s signature and that the statements from the witnesses regarding their viewing of the signing could not be correct.
Beneficiary appealed, and the Court of Appeals held that there was sufficient evidence to establish testamentary intent through (1) the presence of his initials on six pages of the will and (2) the statements made by the witnesses. The lack of a signature on the last page alone did not invalidate the will. The Court of Appeals referenced Texas case law suggesting that a signature on a will could be relatively informal (including initials) if testamentary intent was present. This intent could be inferred through the facts and circumstances surrounding the execution of the will.
What is required for writing a valid will or codicil in Texas?
Except as otherwise provided by law, a valid will must be: (1) In writing; (2) signed by a testator in person; and (3) signed by at least two witnesses in the presence of the testator who are both over the age of 14.
The Takeaway: What Does “Signed” Mean?
Jones v. Jones shows that, as long as there is testamentary intent present, initials may constitute a signature for the purposes of a will.
Do You Need to Hire a Lawyer to Probate a Will In Austin?
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How to make a will in Texas?
A valid Texas will must be: (1) written; (2) signed in person by the testator; and (3) signed by at least two witnesses in the presence of the testator who are both over the age of 14.
Is a handwritten will legal?
A handwritten will is only legal if it meets the requirements of the Texas Estates Code. If the will does not meet these requirements, it may be declared invalid by a court. If any part of a holographic will is not in the handwriting of the testator, or if there is no indication of when it was executed, then it may be declared invalid by a court.
What are the three conditions to make a will valid?
A will must be written and signed by the testator (the person making the will). Under Texas law, a will is not valid unless it was signed at the end of the document by the testator in what is called “testamentary capacity.” To have testamentary capacity, a person must: – understand that they are making a will – know the nature and extent of their property – know who their natural heirs are – understand how distributing their property will affect said heirs.
The will must be signed by two persons who witnessed and signed the will in the presence of the testator. A will can be revoked only if it is done in writing and signed by the testator at the end of the document or after another provision or clause.
If any of these elements are missing, then the court may find that the will is invalid.
What happens if you lost original will?
In general, if you lost your original will, you can execute a new will to replace it. However, when you execute a replacement will, there are a few important rules that you must follow. For more detailed information, please contact our probate attorneys.
How to file a will in Texas?
After a decedent’s will has been filed with the Court the Clerk of the Court should then publish a notice advising all interested parties that the Will has been filed. The notice must remain posted for at least 10 days. This is to give those who wish to contest a will time do so. If no one contests the will, the courts will move forward with confirming its validity.