A Will is a legal document that tells your beneficiaries, such as your family and friends, and the probate court, what your plans are concerning the management and distribution of your assets after you die (your “estate”). The person making the Will also appoints an Executor. In Texas, the Executor is responsible for offering the Will for probate to the probate court or county court at law. Once the Will is admitted to probate and the court “qualifies” the Executor, the Executor will be responsible for collecting the assets in your estate, paying the debts of your estate, and distributing any remaining estate assets to your beneficiaries.
To be valid, a Will must be signed by the person making the will and two “disinterested” witnesses who were in the presence of the person signing the Will when the Will was signed. A probate court can refuse to accept a Will for probate if the Will was not signed properly or the person making the Will did not follow all the formalities for signing a Will as required by Texas law. If that happens, then it is as if the person never had a Will! To avoid this situation, it is best to consult with an estate planning attorney when making a Will.
Wills containing self-proving affidavits are helpful when for when the Will is offered for probate. A self-proving affidavit tells the probate court that the Will was properly signed with all the formalities required by Texas law. The self-proving affidavit is signed by the person making the will, the witnesses, and a notary. If the Will does not contain a self-proving affidavit, then the witnesses will have to appear in probate court when it is time to probate the Will. This could be a problem if the witnesses can no longer be located or are also dead.
An estate planning attorney can assist you with not only drafting your Will but ensuring that the Will is signed and witnessed correctly and contains an accurate self-proving affidavit that follows all the formalities required by law.
A holographic Will is a handwritten Will. To be valid in Texas, a holographic Will must be entirely in the handwriting of the person making the Will, must be signed by the person making, the Will, and must contain testamentary intent. A signed holographic Will can be offered for probate, but additional legal proceedings may be required so that the court can construe, or interpret, the holographic Will if the plan of the person making the Will is unclear or ambiguous.
Estate Planning attorneys draft Wills for individuals who want to plan for their families and their estate after death. An Estate Planning attorney is knowledgeable about the laws concerning estate distribution and estate administration and know what language to use in the Will to accomplish an individual’s estate planning goals. Estate planning attorneys also know what language a probate court or county court at law will expect to see in a properly drafted Will. Probate courts and county courts at law who hear probate cases are local to each county. Therefore, forms offered for sale on the Internet or by national companies may not contain the language that your local probate court or county court at law prefers.
If you have questions about the probate process in your county and how to make a Will that is likely to be admitted to probate in your county, contact an estate planning attorney to discuss your Will and estate planning needs.
The information provided on this page is for educational purposes only and is NOT legal advice. You should consult an estate planning attorney if you have any questions about the information contained on this page or about your particular circumstances or those of someone you know.
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Personal and Attentive Legal Representation — Attorney Adriane S. Grace listens to her clients and personally advocates for them. She will take the time to understand your legal issues and create a plan of action that fulfills your goals.
If you are in the Frisco, Texas area and need an estate planning, probate, guardianship or social security attorney, contact Adriane S. Grace today for a consultation. She is available for legal consultations by telephone or video conference.
Adriane S. Grace accepts estate planning, probate, guardianship, and social security legal matters in Frisco, Plano, Prosper, Allen, McKinney, Celina, Denton, Carrollton, Little Elm, The Colony, Lewisville, Cross Roads, Aubrey, Pilot Point, Oak Point, Richardson, and Dallas.*
*The main office for Law Office of Adriane S. Grace, PLLC, is located in Frisco, Texas. All office locations are by appointment only.