Houston Wills Lawyer
A will is the fundamental estate planning document with which most people are familiar. However, while you may know what a will is and understand that its purpose is to distribute your assets after you pass, making sure your will is valid under Texas law and organized in the best manner to accomplish your goals is critical. Otherwise, all you may have is an inconsequential piece of paper or one that causes your family more headaches than help. At the Law Office of Maria S. Lowry, our Houston wills lawyer helps clients draft and implement effective wills as part of comprehensive estate plans.
Requirements for a Valid Will in Texas
At its most basic, a will is a legal document indicating how an individual would like his or her property distributed to beneficiaries after death. Through a will, you can give specific personal items and assets to certain people or direct that money be held in a trust to be distributed later. You can also leave gifts to charities or other organizations. For a will to be valid in Texas, the law requires the testator—the person for whom the will applies—to be at least 18 years old and of sound mind, i.e. full mental capacity. Also, for your standard will that is typed and formatted as a legal document, at least two credible witnesses must attest and sign the will in the presence of the testator.
Texas does recognize oral wills in some circumstances. An oral will must have been made during last sickness, at the residence where the testator resided for at least 10 days or more before the date of the will, unless the testator suddenly became sick and died away from home. If the value of an oral will is more than $30, it must be proved by three credible witnesses that the testator called upon someone to bear testimony that the statement is his or her will. Another type of will is a holographic will, which is written entirely in the handwriting of the testator. Under Texas law, a holographic will doesn’t require attesting witnesses and may be self-proved by the testator by attaching an affidavit that it is his or her last will.
Choosing an Executor & Guardian with a Will
Through a will, you can name an executor who will handle your estate. This is beneficial because by designating the executor you can streamline the probate process and provide that your executor does not have to post a surety bond with the court to serve. In addition, you can give your executor the power to take other actions without getting a court order.
Another very important function of a will is that it allows you to choose a guardian for your minor children. You can even appoint separate guardians to care for your children and control their money. This helps avoid disputes among relatives and allows you to select the person you think is best suited to raise your children.
Talk to an Experienced Houston Wills Lawyer
To get started on the estate planning process and learn more about wills, please contact the Law Office of Maria S. Lowry. Our Houston wills lawyer assists clients throughout Montgomery, Liberty, Chambers, Galveston, Brazoria, and Fort Bend counties, providing sound and thorough advice for estate planning.