Loved ones could suffer if a sudden accident results in the unanticipated transfer of assets to a family member who does not have the deceased person’s best intentions for the estate in mind. However, proactive estate planning can ease your family’s legal and financial burdens after your passing. From new parents to great-grandparents, expressing your final wishes with a legally binding will and the help of a dedicated trusts and estates attorney is the best way to secure your estate and family’s future.
Drafting a will without counsel often results in probate disputes and invalid documents. Secure your loved one’s financial future with the help of a Houston wills lawyer at Romano & Sumner.
To prevent fraud, wills must adhere to certain legal formalities. Only members of the military, married minors, or persons over the age of 18 may execute a will under Texas Estates Code § 251.001. Failure to follow the legal requirements for drafting testamentary documents results in an invalid will.
Wills must be written, signed by the maker, and subscribed by two witnesses over the age of 14. Most importantly, wills should identify themselves as such and instruct for future, not present, distribution of assets. Testators must revoke any previously created wills in the latest document to prevent any future will contests.
Texas law will recognize handwritten (holographic) wills without witness signatures as valid, provided that the document declares testamentary intent. However, probating holographic wills often results in asset draining estate litigation. Attorneys seldom recommend relying on informally executed or handwritten wills.
Texas Estate Code § 251.002 states that persons of sound mind may use a will to distribute their possessions. Wills may direct the distribution of a single heirloom and leave the remainder of the estate to the surviving relatives. Makers may assign any or all of their owned property under a will, including:
A will does not bind the maker to its terms. Creators of estate distribution documents can still use, sell, mortgage, and gift their property at any time. Individuals may even distribute property before their death without amending their wills; although, testators should discuss estate-altering transactions with a Houston estate planning attorney before doing so.
Properly executed wills drafted by a Romano & Sumner attorney overrides the state’s default heirship laws. Texas subscribes to a per capita distribution system, which often complicates inheritance. If a person dies without a valid or complete will, assets pass via Texas intestate succession laws, Tx. Est. Code §§ 201.001 et seq.
If a person dies without a will or living spouse, assets pass in the following order of priority:
Complications can arise when it comes time to distribute the estate of a married person who dies without a will. Spouses typically inherit one-third of any non-community property, and the remaining two-thirds go to living children. State law would split a decedent’s non-community estate equally between spouses and parents or siblings if the decedent did not have children.
Texas inheritance laws may not support your current distribution plan. Speak with a Houston wills lawyer to ensure your current estate plan meets your future desires.
Romano & Sumner’s qualified trust and estate attorneys frequently help individuals draft wills, understand state heirship laws, and design their estate to minimize financial hardships. Call today for a free consultation.
Romano & Sumner, PLLC