Advance planning for your estate could alleviate many legal hassles for your loved ones after you pass. If you die without a will, all your assets and property would be distributed in accordance with Texas intestate succession laws, which may not represent your desires for your estate.
As such, drafting a will is a central component of the estate planning process in Texas. Working with a Richmond wills lawyer can ensure this document covers all your goals and wishes while remaining enforceable in the eyes of a state court. A seasoned trusts & estates attorney could also help you with changing the terms of an outdated will.
Texas Estates Code §251.051 establishes that for a will to be valid, it must be in writing and signed by either the person drafting it (the testator) or by another on behalf of the testator, so long as he or she is in the testator’s presence and is acting under the testator’s direction. If the will is not holographic, meaning that it is not entirely handwritten by the testator, then it must also be signed in the testator’s presence by at least two credible witnesses who are at least 14 years old.
Additionally, state law requires a testator to meet three specific criteria while drafting their will for the documented to be valid. First, they must have legal capacity to write a will, meaning they must be one or more of the following:
Second, they must have testamentary capacity, which essentially means they are of sufficiently sound mind to understand what they are doing in writing a will. Finally, they must have testamentary intent, which means that their intention in drafting the document is to create an enforceable will with instructions for how their property should be distributed upon their death. These are the basics of three crucial requirements in creating a valid will, which a knowledgeable local attorney could explain in further detail.
With the exception of those who have specifically prohibited alterations to their will in accordance with Tex. Est. Code §254.004, anyone who has written a will in Richmond can revoke or alter it at any time. However, for a change or revocation to be legally enforceable, they must do one of the following:
Furthermore, if after a person (testator) executes his or her will, the testator’s marriage is legally dissolved (divorce, annulment, etc.), then any language in the will that names a former spouse and/or former spouse’s relative as a beneficiary, executor or trustee, will automatically be treated as if that person predeceased the testator, unless the will expressly states otherwise. A wills lawyer could offer further assistance with modifications and revocations in Richmond in accordance with state law.
It is always a good idea to retain legal help while drafting your will. Because this document may be the only source of clarification on your intentions when you pass, it is essential to be clear and as thorough as possible.
Romano & Sumner, PLLC