While no one wants to think about their death, planning for the future is essential to making sure your family is taken care of after you pass. Taking the time to work with an experienced estate planning lawyer to write a Will can save your loved ones from the stress of dividing an estate after you’re gone. No one wants their family members to fight over finances, property, or personal items while they are grieving. With the drafting help of an experienced estate planning attorney, your Will can clearly define your last wishes for your property and children. The Law Office of Annabel Moore is here to help you create a comprehensive Last Will and Testament.
What is a Will?
A Last Will and Testament, commonly known as a Will, is a legal document designed to protect your family and your property after you pass away. A detailed Will includes who or what organizations will receive your property after your death. This gives you the opportunity to leave property to whomever you desire and avoids problems that may arise from family members fighting over an inheritance. A Will also designates who will care for any children under the age of 18, can establish a trust for the benefit of another, and names the executor of your estate. Naming an executor is critical to ensuring your last wishes and all terms in your Will are followed.
How Do I Create a Will?
With the help of a knowledgeable and caring estate planning attorney, you will be able to sit down and write a detailed plan for the disposition of your assets. The Law Office of Annabel Moore will ensure your Will complies with Texas law and fully describes your last wishes. Call our office today to begin the process of planning for your family’s future. We know this is a difficult process and we are here to guide you through each part of your plan step by step.
What Are the Requirements for a Last Will and Testament in Texas?
A written legal Will in Texas must meet specific requirements to be considered valid. The person executing the Will must be 18 years of age, serving in the military, or be married. The Will must be created voluntarily and cannot be created under duress or by force. The individual creating the Will must be of sound mind at the time of drafting. The Will must also express the drafter’s intent to distribute their property.
When finalizing a Texas Will, the testator must sign the document in front of two witnesses. Those same witnesses must sign the Will in front of the testator. The witnesses must be at least 14 years of age and write the signature in their own handwriting. Your Will does not need to be notarized; however, Texas does allow you to make your Will “self-proving,” which requires a notary. This speeds up the probate process because a court can accept the Will without contacting the witnesses who signed the original draft.
What if I Want to Change or Revoke My Will?
There are a variety of reasons why you may want to revoke or change your Will. Family situations change, financial status changes, and properties may change. In Texas, you are able to change or revoke your Will at any time unless you are bound by a contract not to. A Will can be revoked by destroying or canceling all or part of it, ordering someone other than yourself to destroy it in front of you, or creating a new Will that states it revokes the old one. If you and your spouse divorce or your marriage is found to be invalid by Texas courts, Texas law revokes any language in your Will that leaves property to your spouse or names your spouse as executor. This also applies to any relatives of the divorced spouse.
If you wish to make changes to your Will, our attorneys can help you revoke the original and create a new one. If the changes you would like to make are minor, we can help you add an amendment to your existing Will called a codicil. In either case, your new legal documents will have to be formalized in the same manner as the original Will.
What Happens if I Die Without a Will?
In Texas, if you pass without a Will, your property will be transferred according to state intestacy laws. These laws allocate a decedent’s property to their closest living relatives starting with a spouse and children. If the decedent dies while unmarried and/or without children, grandchildren or parents will receive their property. The list of inheritors continues, with increasingly distant family members including siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces, cousins, etc. The courts will take care of this process since an executor has not been named. If the court cannot find any living family members by blood or marriage to distribute your property to, the state will take your property. Without a Will, the courts will also determine who your children’s caretaker will be after you pass. Having a Last Will and Testament ensures your final wishes are followed instead of leaving the state in charge of making these important decisions.
Texas Estate Planning and Probate Attorney
While no one wants to think about or plan for their death, it is important to create a Will to ensure your last wishes are respected. The Law Office of Annabel Moore is here to help you create a Will that complies with all Texas state laws and regulations. Let us guide you through the process of ensuring your loved ones are cared for after your passing. Contact us today to learn more.