How to Make a Will in Texas?
5 min read

How to Make a Will in Texas?

Why should I create a Will? What are the requirements for a valid Will in Texas? This article discusses to process of writing a Will in Texas and how you can ensure that your documents are valid! Keep reading to learn more!

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It's important to have a Will in Texas if you want to control your legacy after you pass away. In many states, creating a Will is a daunting task, but in Texas, making a Will is a relatively straightforward process. In some situations, the state has procedures that allow for a fast administration of your estate. This article outlines the key steps and considerations involved in making a will in Texas.

Why is it Important to Have a Will in Texas?

A Will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. Without a Will, your property will be distributed according to Texas' intestacy laws, which might not align with your wishes. For more on the consequences of dying without a Will in Texas, check out the article What Happens If You Die Without a Will In Texas? By creating a Will, you have control over the distribution of your estate.

Requirements for a Valid Will in Texas

To ensure that your Will is legally valid in Texas, you must follow the requirements outlined in the state's laws.

In Texas, you must be at least 18 years old and of "sound mind" to create a Will. This means you understand the implications of the decisions you made in leaving your property and aren't under the influence of external factors or people.  You must also have "testamentary intent," which means that you know you are writing a Will and intend to distribute your property. 

A Texas Will must be in writing, either handwritten or typed. A formal Will is valid in Texas if two people over the age of 14 witness the signing of the document. The witnesses must sign in the presence of the person who made the Will. You don't have to notarize your Will in Texas. However, if you want to streamline the probate process even more, then getting your Will notarized will help make your will "self-proving." If two witnesses sign a self-proving affidavit and get it notarized, then the witnesses won't have to go to court to testify that they really did witness your Will. Instead, your executor can move forward with the process quickly. 

Requirements for a Valid Handwritten Will in Texas

If a Will is handwritten, this is called a "holographic Will." In Texas, you do not need witnesses to a holographic Will. Although this is attractive to many people who want a simple Will, there are some downsides to a handwritten Will. First of all, for it to be admitted to probate court, someone will need to testify that they know the Will is in your handwriting. Second, without a witness, it's easier for someone to argue that you weren't actually of sound mind when you wrote the Will or to assert that someone else influenced you. This opens the door to family disputes, which can be costly. It's far easier to let FastWill guide you through the process of making a formal Will. 

Steps for Writing Your Own Will in Texas

It's easy to make your own Will in Texas without the involvement of a lawyer. To get started, you must gather information about your assets, liabilities, and beneficiaries. 

Step 1:  Make a List of Your Assets: Before drafting your Will, it's essential to take stock of your assets. They include real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal belongings, and any other property you own.  

Step 2:  Choose an Executor: An executor is the person responsible for carrying out the instructions in your Will. This individual will manage your estate, settle debts, and ensure your assets are distributed as you directed. Don't forget to name an alternate executor in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve in the role.

Step 3: Make Beneficiary Designations: Identify who you want to include as beneficiaries in your Will. This is the step that people associate most closely with "writing a will." This is where you decide who will inherit your assets. Specify the beneficiaries' full names and their relationship to you.

Step 4: Name Guardians for Minors: If you have minor children, designate a guardian who will take care of them. Make sure to discuss this responsibility with the chosen guardian beforehand. Since there's no guarantee that your guardian will outlive you or be able to serve, make sure you also name an alternate or even two.

Step 5: Disposition of Assets: Outline how your assets should be distributed. You can be as specific as you'd like, whether it's a particular piece of jewelry, a car, a sum of money, or a percentage of your estate.

Step 6: Include a Residuary Clause: You won't name a beneficiary for every single thing you own, so you should include a residuary clause that disposes of assets that aren't mentioned elsewhere in your Will or Trust. This ensures that any overlooked assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Step 7. Name Alternative Beneficiaries: In case a beneficiary predeceases you, designate alternative beneficiaries.

Step 8:  Witnesses: When you're ready to sign your Will, gather two witnesses who are over age 14. Sign the Will in their presence, and have them sign as witnesses. As noted above, if you want to make your will self-proving, get the Will notarized. 

Step 9:  Make Copies and Store the Will: Always make copies of the Will and safeguard them along with the original. Be sure to store your Will in a safe and accessible place and inform your executor of its location. Don't put it in a bank safe deposit box because it could take extra time before the bank allows someone to access it. Inform at least one other person of where they can find your Will.

Step 10:  Periodically Review the Will: Life circumstances change, so it's a good idea to review and update your will periodically, especially after major life events like marriage, divorce, birth or adoption, a move, or significant asset acquisitions. FastWill makes this process easy. You can update or write a new Will at any time.

Write a Valid Texas Will Now

If you live in Texas, be sure that you understand the law and follow the instructions to ensure your will is legally binding. FastWill can help you make a Will that is informed by AI but is backed by real lawyers, so you never have to worry about researching the law yourself. At FastWill, we know that each person's situation is unique, so we give you plenty of options that fit your specific needs and circumstances.

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