When a person passes away without a Will, family members and loved ones could be left in a precarious situation. Often time’s promises are made before death by the decedent that cannot be legally carried out after death without a valid Will. This results in family members bickering and fighting over the possessions of the decedent. To prevent this type of situation from occurring I always urge people to execute a valid Will in order to keep confusion down amongst family members in the event of their death.
Will Execution in Texas
A Will is a legal document that allows you to do a number of things such as:
1) Identify your beneficiaries;
2) Designate the way in which your property will be distributed;
3) Nominate a legal guardian for any minor children;
4) Nominate an executor to manage your estate, pay any debts, expenses and taxes, associated with your estate and distribute your estate according to your wishes.
To make a valid Will in Texas, you must have:
1) Legal capacity: you must be over the age of 18 to execute a valid Will;
2) Testamentary capacity: you must be of “sound mind” which means you must have the mental capacity to understand that you are executing a Will.
3) Testamentary intent: you must have the intention to make a revocable disposition of your property to take effect in the event of your death.
How to execute a valid Will:
To be valid a Will must:
1) Be in writing and signed by you, or another person at your direction and in your presence;
2) Signed by two credible witnesses over the age of 14 and in your presence.
3) There is also the option of adding a self-proving affidavit to the Will. The self- proving affidavit substitutes for in-court testimony of witnesses as to the validity of the Will, which saves considerable time and expense.
If you are considering drafting a Will, I would advise that you consult with an attorney so that there will be no doubt in your mind that it is a valid Will. If a will is deemed invalid by the court your wishes will not be carried out and the distribution of your estate will be governed by a statutory formula.