Creating a will is crucial to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away.
In Texas, however, it’s not enough to simply draft a document and call it a will. A will must meet certain legal requirements to be considered valid. Failing to meet these requirements can result in the will being deemed invalid, which can have serious consequences for your loved ones.
Having a valid Texas will is crucial because it ensures that your assets and properties are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. Without one, your estate would likely go through probate court where decisions about asset distribution would be made based on state law rather than your specific desires.
Furthermore, having a valid Texas will can help prevent family disputes and minimize stress for loved ones during an already difficult time. It provides clear instructions on how to handle important matters such as guardianship of minor children, distribution of assets, and funeral arrangements.
This is why it’s important to seek legal advice when creating a Texas will to avoid potential issues and ensure that your wishes are carried out as intended.
What is a Texas Will?
A Texas will is a legal document that outlines an individual’s wishes for how their property and belongings should be distributed after they die or that names an executor to handle their affairs.
According to Texas law, for a will to be valid, it must be in writing, signed by the testator or someone signing on their behalf in their presence and under their direction, and attested by at least two credible witnesses who are at least 14 years old and sign the will in the presence of the testator.
The law also allows for exceptions, such as a “holographic will,” which is a will written entirely by the testator’s own handwriting and does not require the presence of subscribing witnesses to be considered valid.
Reasons Why a Texas Will May Be Considered Invalid
There are several reasons why a Texas will may be considered invalid.
One reason is that it was not executed properly according to state law. For example, if it was not signed by the testator or witnessed by two individuals who are not beneficiaries of the will, then it may be deemed invalid.
A self-proving affidavit can be used to verify the authenticity of a will in Texas. It accompanies a last will and testament and confirms that the testator signed the document voluntarily and was of sound mind at the time. The affidavit also confirms that the witnesses who signed the will were present when the testator signed it and saw them sign it.
Having a self-proving affidavit can speed up the probate process and reduce the risk of will contests, as it eliminates or reduces the need for witnesses to appear in court during probate proceedings. To create a self-proving affidavit, the testator and witnesses must sign the document in front of a notary public, and it should include the names and addresses of the testator and witnesses, as well as a statement affirming that they signed the will voluntarily and were of sound mind at the time.
Capacity & Undue Influence
Another reason why a Texas will may be considered invalid is if there is evidence that suggests that the testator did not have testamentary capacity when they made their will. Testamentary capacity refers to an individual’s ability to understand what they own, who their beneficiaries are, and what effect signing a particular document has on those things.
If there is evidence that suggests undue influence or fraud was involved in creating or executing the will, then it may also be deemed invalid.
Lapse of Time & Changed Circumstances
A will does not expire in Texas. However, a will may become invalid if all of the beneficiaries die or if the decedent gets divorced. Changes like this can result in the estate being distributed according to the laws of intestate succession.
Revoked by Another Writing
It is possible for many documents to be considered a will under Texas law. Even a handwritten note can be a will. If such a note exists, it may have the effect of revoking prior wills.
What Happens if My Texas Will is Invalid?
If your Texas will is invalid, there are a few things that could happen. First, if the will was not properly executed, it may be challenged in court. This means that someone may try to prove that the will was not validly created, signed, or witnessed. If the court finds that the will is not valid, then it will be void and the estate will be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws.
Another possibility is that even if the will is valid, it may not be enforced. This can happen if the executor named in the will does not follow through with probate or if there are challenges to the will after it has been submitted to probate court. In either case, if the court finds that the will is not being properly enforced, it may order that the estate be distributed according to intestacy laws.
If you have any questions about whether your Texas will is valid or how it might be enforced, you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney in your area.
As you can see, there are a number of ways in which a Texas will can become invalid. It’s important to be aware of these so that you can ensure your own will is valid and effective. If you have any questions about your will or estate planning in general, be sure to consult with an experienced attorney who can advise you on the best course of action for your specific situation.
If you need help with your Texas probate matter, call us today for a FREE attorney consultation at (281) 219-9090.
Our Houston Probate Attorneys provide a full range of probate services to our clients, including helping with invalid wills. 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. Call us today for a FREE attorney consultation.
The content of this website is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information presented may not apply to your situation and should not be acted upon without consulting a qualified probate attorney. We encourage you to seek the advice of a competent attorney with any legal questions you may have.