Texas allows handwritten (holographic) wills, but usually, a typed will is a better option. There are some restrictions, however, on holographic wills in Texas that could invalidate a handwritten will under the right circumstances. Because of those rules, relying on a handwritten will can be risky and subject your loved ones to delays and higher expenses for the administration of your estate one day.
You can talk to a Texas estate planning attorney about drafting proper estate planning documents and get answers to your questions, like, Is a handwritten will valid? Everything you need to know about holographic wills could help you reach a decision about this issue.
What Are the Rules in Texas About Handwritten Wills?
Texas law allows you to handwrite your own will, but there are a few caveats. For example:
- If someone else handwrites your will, the document is not valid. You must write the will yourself. This rule protects you from having someone handwrite a fake will that you did not authorize.
- If you handwrite anything on a typed will, your handwritten words will invalidate everything that is typed. You might have meant merely to edit something on your existing will, but by doing so, only the handwritten part survives. This result is seldom what the testator (the person making the will) wanted to happen.
- You must sign your handwritten will. You do not have to spell out your full, legal name, but the “identifying mark,” like an “X,” must be how you customarily sign important papers.
- You must have the same level of testamentary capacity that Texas law requires for a typed will or living trust.
- It is best for a holographic will to include the date on which you wrote and signed the document.
Testamentary intent deserves some elaboration, so let’s go into detail on that issue.
An Overview of Testamentary Capacity
Testamentary capacity means several things, that include:
- You were of sound mind when you made the will. This requirement protects you and your loved ones from someone trying to take advantage of you if you become frail mentally.
- You understood what you were doing; in other words, you realized that you were making a legal document that would distribute your assets after your death.
- You knew and could recognize which people were the natural objects of your bounty, for example, your close relatives and friends.
A holographic will must provide an accurate description of the assets you want to transfer and the identity of the people you want to receive each item.
What Should You Do if You Make a Typed Will After Writing a Holographic Will?
A will that follows proper form will specifically state that it revokes all prior wills. One benefit of having a lawyer draft your estate planning documents is that the attorney can cover these bases for you to protect you and your loved ones from legal entanglements down the road.
It is not a bad idea to write the word “revoked” in large letters on your handwritten will and draw Xs on the pages, crossing out the words before ripping up the pages. Those steps will protect you if someone tries to piece the pages back together. A Texas estate planning attorney can help you create an estate plan to match your needs and goals. For legal help, contact our office today, we offer a free consultation.