Thursday, July 5, 2012

What are the Requirements for a Valid Texas Will?

In general, to be valid and enforceable in Texas, a will must be:

- Written;
- Signed by the person making it (the “Testator”) who must be a legal adult;
- Executed with “testamentary intent” – in other words, the document must reflect that the Testator is of sound mind and intends for that document to create a disposition of her property that will take effect only after her death;
- Signed by at least two witnesses who must be over the age of 14 and not beneficiaries in any way under the will; and
- Signed by the witnesses in front of the Testator.

The Testator, by the way, does not have to sign the will in front of the witnesses, and the witnesses do not need to both sign at the same time.  The will does NOT need to be notarized in order to be valid, although signing it before a notary can make the will “self-proved” for future purposes and is strongly recommended.

Sometimes, the will can be entirely handwritten by the Testator and be valid even without any witnesses, although caution should be made since this exception is very limited.  See our blog post about a “holographic will.” 

Texas also recognizes a very, very limited exception for a valid “oral” (unwritten) will.  See our blog post about an “oral will.”

By: Cynthia W. Veidt