How to Write a Simple Will in Texas?
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How to Write a Simple Will in Texas?

How is a simple Will different from a regular Will? How is estate planning different in Texas? Keep reading to learn the steps to create a simple Will and how you can validate this document!

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People are often reluctant to write a Will in Texas because they think it will be too complicated and expensive. Although estate planning can be complex for people with significant wealth and assets, for most people, estate planning can be simple. In 2023, the Texas Supreme Court recognized that most Texas residents actually have relatively straightforward assets and wishes. The Court published its own guidelines to help people create Simple Wills without hiring a lawyer. FastWill can help you make a legally valid Simple Will in Texas with our online Will-making platform. The process of writing a Simple Will is governed by the principles set forth by the Supreme Court of Texas, statutory law, and Texas estate planning lawyers.

Table of Contents

Step 1. The Importance of a Will in Texas
Step 2. Make a List of Your Assets
Step 3. Identify Beneficiaries and Executor
Step 4. Understand the Different Types of Wills
Step 5. Review Texas's Legal Requirements for a Simple Will
Step 6. Drafting Your Simple Will
Step 7. When to Revise Your Texas Will
Step 8. Execute Your Simple Texas Will

Step 1. The Importance of a Will in Texas

Since more than half of all Texans do not have a Will, let's consider all of the
reasons why it is so important to have a Last Will and Testament. The most important
reason to have a Will is so that you ensure that your property is given to the people you
choose. Dying without a Will - which is called dying "intestate" gives the state of Texas control over your last wishes. When you pass away without a Will, your property is
distributed according to intestacy laws. Intestacy laws may divide up your property in
unexpected ways. If you make a Simple Will in Texas, the probate process is faster and is largely controlled by the executor you name in the Will. That person will be responsible for following through with your wishes. You can also name a legal guardian for your
children. Although many parents just assume that their spouse will outlive them, this is
not always the case. And in instances of divorce and separation, it's also important to
make sure that your wishes for their care are known. A Simple Will in Texas can help you achieve those goals.

Step 2. Make a List of Your Assets

The first thing to do is make an inventory of all of your assets. An asset is anything of economic value or future benefit. Here are some examples of Texas assets:

● Cash
● Houses and land
● Vehicles
● Bank accounts
● Investment accounts
● Artwork
● Personal items like jewelry, antiques, collectibles, and home goods
● Insurance policies
● Cryptocurrency
● Social media accounts (including photographs and music)

Assets that already have beneficiaries do not pass through your Will. For example, life insurance policies pass directly to the person or organization you named in the paperwork.

Step 3. Identify Beneficiaries and Executor

Once you have a clear picture of your assets, identify your beneficiaries and name an executor.

Beneficiaries: The dictionary definition of beneficiary is "a person who derives
advantage from something, especially a trust, will, or life insurance policy." For purposes of a Simple Will in Texas, a beneficiary is someone who will inherit your property. List the legal names, addresses, and contact information for each person so that your executor knows how to contact them. Executor: An executor is a person or in some cases an institution, who you appoint to carry out the terms of your Will. This person or institution will have the power
to pay your debts and distribute your assets to your beneficiaries. In Texas, state law
requires executors to be a Texas resident who does not have a criminal record. If possible, name an alternate executor just in case the first person you select is unable to serve.

Step 4. Understand the Different Types of Wills

In Texas, the most common type of will is the Simple Will. There are two additional options that are appropriate for some people. First is the Pour-Over Will, which is a safety valve for people who have trusts. The Pour-Over Will transfer assets into a trust at your death just in case you didn't add those assets during your lifetime. If you don't have a trust, you don't need a Pour-Over Will. The second option is a Joint Will, which is a contract between a married couple that commits each spouse to the same general plan for the distribution of assets. This may seem convenient, but Joint Wills are discouraged in Texas, and for most people, a Simple Will for each spouse is just as effective.

Step 5. Review Texas's Legal Requirements for a Simple Will

To make a valid Will in Texas, the document must be in writing. This can be typed and then printed out.

● You must be 18 years old and of sound mind and memory. This means
you need to be aware of what it means to make a Will, understand the
nature and extent of your property, and that you are capable of making the
intellectual judgments necessary about matters included in your Will.
● You must not be under the influence of another person. This means that
you're making the Simple Will of your own volition, not due to pressure
from another person.
● You must have two witnesses who are at least 14 years old. In Texas, the
witness should not derive any financial benefit from your Will. This means
you can't name people who are beneficiaries to be your witnesses.

Step 6. Drafting Your Simple Will

FastWill has consulted with experts in Texas estate planning and our platform
can assist you in creating a basic Will which meets Texas's legal requirements. In this
step, you will make a Will that includes the most important elements. You'll identify yourself as the testator, and include your legal name and address. You will name an executor and your beneficiaries. You will also name a legal guardian if you have children under the age 18.

Step 7. When to Revise Your Texas Will

It's good practice to review your Texas Simple Will when something big happens
in your life. Here are some common major life events that should prompt you to review
and revise your will:

● Adoption or birth of children
● Marriage and divorce
● Interstate or international move
● A promotion or career change
● The acquisition or loss of property
● The purchase or sale of land

Step 8. Execute Your Simple Texas Will

You must "execute" the Simple Will for it to be effective. All this means is that you need to sign and date the Will in the presence of two witnesses. You don't have to notarize the document, but there are advantages to notarization. When a notary public verifies your identity and the authenticity of your signature, the Will is "self-proving." That means your witnesses won't need to testify in court. FastWill has partnered with OnlineNotaryCenter, which can connect you with a notary as soon as you complete your document. OnlineNotaryCenter can set up a remote meeting with you and your witnesses to sign your Texas Simple Will. Taking these steps ensures that your Simple Will in Texas reflects your wishes and is legally accepted by the probate court.

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