a texas lawyer in fort-worth dallas going over a valid will requirements with a client
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By Carey Thompson
Founding Attorney

Understanding the requirements for a valid will in Texas is crucial for ensuring your wishes are respected after you pass away. In Texas, specific legal criteria must be met for a will to be considered valid. This includes aspects such as age, mental capacity, the presence of witnesses, and how the will is written and signed. Failure to comply with these requirements can lead to unintended consequences regarding the distribution of your estate.

Why a Valid Will Is Important

Having a valid will in Texas ensures that your assets and possessions are distributed according to your wishes after your passing. Without a valid will, you are deemed to have passed “intestate”  and state laws dictate how your estate is divided, which might not align with your personal preferences or the needs of your loved ones. A valid will also minimizes disputes among beneficiaries and provides clear guidance on your intentions. Furthermore, it can safeguard minor children by appointing trusted guardians, ensuring they are cared for as you intended.

Basic Requirements for a Valid Will in Texas

  • Age and Mental Capacity: In Texas, the testator must be at least 18 years old, or lawfully married, or a member of the armed forces. Additionally, they must possess “sound mind,” meaning they understand the nature of the bequests and the identity of those who are the natural objects of their bounty.
  • Written Document: A valid will must be in writing. This can be either typed or handwritten. While typed wills require witnesses, a handwritten (holographic) will does not necessarily need witnesses if the handwriting can be verified.
  • Signature: The will must be signed by the testator or by another person under the testator’s direction and in their presence. This signature is a vital element to confirm the document’s validity and the testator’s approval of its contents.
  • Witnesses: If the will is not holographic, it requires two credible witnesses over the age of 14. These witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator, affirming that they have witnessed the testator’s signing or acknowledgment of the document.

Common Misconceptions About the Need for Wills in Texas

A widespread myth is that all your assets automatically transfer to your spouse upon death without a will. In fact, without a will, Texas laws dictate a specific distribution, which may not align with personal wishes and can include other family members.  This is particularly true when either spouse has children from a prior marriage. Another common misconception about wills in Texas is that they must be drafted by a lawyer. In reality, while legal advice is certainly beneficial, it’s not a legal requirement for the creation of a will. Additionally, many believe that wills are only for the wealthy, but in truth, they are important for anyone with assets or wishes regarding their estate’s distribution.

The Importance of Precision and Clarity

Precision and clarity in drafting a will are paramount to ensure that your wishes are accurately carried out after your passing. Ambiguities or vague language in a will can lead to legal disputes among beneficiaries, potentially resulting in costly and lengthy court battles that can deplete estate resources. Clearly specifying assets, beneficiaries, and executors can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts. It’s also important to update your will regularly to reflect changes in your life circumstances, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child, to ensure that it remains an accurate reflection of your current wishes and situation.

Assistance Creating a Valid Will With Our Fort Worth-Dallas Estate Planning Lawyers

If you’re looking to create or update your will, the Law Office of Carey Thompson is here to guide you through the process. Our team is dedicated to ensuring your final wishes are clearly and legally articulated. Contact us today for personalized assistance and peace of mind.

About the Author
Carey Thompson has been practicing Social Security Disability Law Since 2008 after he graduated from Texas Wesleyan School of Law, now known as Texas A&M school of Law in Fort Worth, TX.  While at Texas Wesleyan he served on Law Review.  Prior to going to Law School, Mr. Thompson was a High School Band Director for four years using his degree in Music Education from Michigan State University.  Prior to Attending Michigan State, he attended Aledo Schools from Kindergarten to graduate.  Mr.Thompson feels strongly about serving the people of Tarrant County.