A will is a document that determines how someone's property and assets are treated after they die. It is important to make a will or trust to ensure your wishes are followed after passing away. Not having a will in place may leave family members fighting over assets, delay distribution of assets in probate, or even have your property revert to the state.
If you have any questions about wills and estate planning in Texas, contact the Sugar Land estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Kimberly D. Moss, PLLC.
Requirements of a Valid Will in Texas
A person who makes a will is known as the “testator.” The legal requirements for a valid will in Texas are simple. Under the Texas Estates Code, a will must be:
- In writing;
- Signed by the testator in person (or by another person on behalf of the testator, in the testator's presence, and under the testator's direction); and
- Attested by two or more credible witnesses who are at least 14 years of age and who subscribe their names to the will in their own handwriting in the testator's presence.
An even simpler will is known as a “holographic will.” A will written wholly in the testator's handwriting is not required to be attested by subscribing witnesses.
What Happens to Property Without a Will?
With a will, you can leave property to whoever you want, whether you are related or not, including friends, unmarried partners, or charities. Without a will, the Texas state laws of intestacy will determine how the property of the deceased is distributed.
Intestacy depends on which surviving relatives are alive upon the death of the individual. Intestacy can get complicated the more distant the surviving relatives become. If there are no qualifying relatives under intestate succession, the property will generally go to the state.
How Different Property is Treated in a Will
A person competent to make a will may devise under the will all the estate, right, title, and interest in the property the person has at the time of the person's death. This includes real estate, cash, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, business ownership interests, cars, jewelry, artwork, and just about any other property.
When making a will, the testator may want to leave certain property to certain people. However, the testator may want to include any assets that are not specifically referred to, as the “residuary estate.” A residuary beneficiary can inherit the property that is not specifically left to named beneficiaries. If the testator does not provide for all property in a will, the remaining property may go to probate and be distributed under the laws of intestacy.
Life Events and Changing Your Will
Many people make a will and never make changes to the document. After major life events, the testator should consider updating their will. Life changes that may change how your property is to be distributed include:
- Birth of a child,
- Marriage, or
- Serious illness.
Sugar Land Wills and Estate Planning Attorneys
The Law Office of Kimberly D. Moss offers a complete range of probate and estate administration services and is ready to provide you the highest quality of service. For wills and estate planning services in Houston and Sugarland, contact us today online or by phone at (713) 574-8626.