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Last Will & Testament

A last will & testament is a crucial legal document that clearly outlines how a person wants their financial assets and personal property to be distributed after they pass away. Having a properly drafted and executed will is one of the most important estate planning steps an individual can take to provide for their loved ones and exercise control over their legacy.

A comprehensive last will & testament allows you to decide exactly who inherits your real estate, financial accounts, personal possessions, and other assets when you die. It also designates trusted individuals to carry out your wishes by naming an executor, guardians for minor children, and trustees to manage any trusts you establish. Careful planning through your will also enables minimizing taxes owed on large estates, avoiding family disputes, and preventing assets from going to unintended beneficiaries under state intestacy laws.

By investing the time and effort into creating a customized will with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can gain peace of mind knowing your final wishes will be honored and those you care about will be provided for as you intended.

Purposes of Having a Will

There are several important reasons why having a legally valid will is critical:

  • It allows the testator (the person creating the will) to determine exactly who will inherit their property, assets, and possessions after they die. This includes making specific bequests to named individuals, charities, etc.
  • It allows the testator to designate an executor who will be responsible for carrying out the terms of the will and managing the estate.
  • It allows the testator to name legal guardians for any minor children or dependents to provide for their care.
  • It enables creating customized trusts that can manage assets on behalf of beneficiaries over the long-term.
  • It provides means to minimize estate taxes owed on the inheritance for large estates.

Without a will, the state’s intestacy laws will dictate who the legal heirs are and how assets are distributed, which may not match the decedent’s wishes.

Requirements for a Legally Valid Will

For a will to be considered legally valid and enforceable under Texas probate law, certain requirements must be met:

  • The testator must be at least 18 years old, or they must be lawfully married or serving in the armed forces.
  • The testator must be of sound mind and fully competent when making decisions about final wishes and signing the will.
  • The will must be made completely voluntarily and free of any undue influence, coercion, or duress that may manipulate the testator’s true wishes.
  • The testator must have clear testamentary intent to leave property to named heirs at the time of death.
  • All wills must meet execution requirements such as proper signatures, witnessing, and notarization. Additional specific rules apply for handwritten wills vs formal typed wills.

It is important to note that Texas allows for holographic wills (handwritten wills) to be valid, albeit they follow specific guidelines only applicable to them that helps ensure their validity.

Trusts Created Under a Will

Wills can be used to create trusts that take effect after the testator’s death, called testamentary trusts. These customized trusts allow additional control over how assets are managed and distributed, such as:

  • Providing long-term care and financial support for minor children, dependents, or beneficiaries with special needs.
  • Preventing irresponsible spending by heirs who may squander their inheritance on poor investments or frivolous spending.
  • Protecting the inheritance from an heir’s creditors, bankruptcy, lawsuits, or divorce proceedings.
  • Reducing the estate taxes owed on a large inheritance to maximize the beneficiaries’ share.

Importance of an Attorney’s Guidance

Drafting a customized last will and testament, and establishing any trusts, can involve very complex legal issues. Hiring an experienced estate planning attorney to handle these matters is highly recommended. This will provide you confidence that your final wishes are properly documented, your beneficiaries’ interests are protected, and that your will follows all current Texas probate laws.

The Takeaway

Having a thoughtfully crafted last will and testament is one of the most important steps you can take to gain control over your legacy and provide for your loved ones after you pass away. Consulting with an estate planning attorney to draw up your will, establish any trusts, and handle related matters can give you confidence that your final wishes will be carried out properly under Texas law.

By investing the time and resources into your will and estate plan, you can bring peace of mind knowing loved ones will be provided for, disputes will be avoided, and your values will live on through the distribution of your assets.

Why Choose Us?

Local Expertise: With a focus on probate and assisting clients in Houston, we understand local peculiarities and leverage our established network to expedite the probate process.

Vast Experience: Our attorneys bring years of dedicated experience in navigating Harris County’s probate system.

Client-Centered Approach: We recognize the emotional stress often associated with probate administration. Our objective is to alleviate this stress by providing you with top-notch legal support.

Contact us today to arrange a FREE consultation and make the probate process simpler for you.

Our Houston Probate Attorneys provide a full range of estate planning services to our clients, including helping with creating custom estate plans. Affordable rates, fixed fees, and payment plans are available. We provide step-by-step instructions, guidance, checklists, and more for completing the probate process. We have years of combined experience we can use to support and guide you with probate and estate matters.


Disclaimer:  The content of this website is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice and should not be acted upon without consulting a qualified probate attorney.


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