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How to Create a Last Will and Testament in Texas
The last will and testament is the legal instrument which declares who receives your property/estate upon your death. It also names the person who will oversee the estate ensuring that taxes as paid and assets go to the named parties. And if you have kids aged below 18 years, you could use the last will to appoint a guardian.
It makes up an integral part of estate planning and even when you don’t have a large estate, creating a will assures you of the well-being of your loved ones. You should know that if you do not create a will or name a guardian, the courts will have to make that decision and it may not represent your wishes in any aspect.
As threatening as that sounds, we hope it gives you a nudge towards creating a will. Before we look at what the state will do in the absence of a will, we have some good new – you don’t have to pay a lawyer to create a will. As long as you have an internet connection, you could download our free Texas last will and testament forms to get you started. The beauty of the forms is that they come sectioned and you only need to read the information provided in the sections then fill the blanks.
Creating a last will
- As mentioned above, the primary role of the last will and testament is to ensure the distribution of your assets as per your needs, as well as the protection of your loved ones. However, that is not all that your free last will and testament can do. To explore all the uses of the will and to cover all your bases when creating the will, some of the uses of the will should guide you when preparing the will.
- Creation of testamentary trusts
- You could use the last will to create irrevocable trusts mainly called testamentary trusts. The state respects these trusts as they signify your wishes on matters regarding your estate. The trusts created include the dynasty trust that keeps your assets in the family, the education trust that accumulates your assets, pet trust for the care of the named animal for the rest of its life, or the disclaimer trust which shelters assets for a spouse in the event of a divorce.
- Appointment of the guardian
- As mentioned above, you can use the last will to appoint a guardian for your minor kids or a special needs kid. The guardian will take over parenting in your absence, and so, you must choose someone you can trust with your life. We recommend having the talk with the person in mind to ensure that they understand the weight of the role when they take it up. Guardianship is essential when you are the only parent or if both of you pass away at the same time.
- The other role of the guardian would be handling the finances you leave your kids or dependents so; be careful about who you appoint.
- The appointment of the executor
An executor is a person you trust to oversee your estate and then facilitate the distribution of your assets. Above these roles, there is the filing of the will with the probate court. The only way the person you appoint the executor gets to act on your directives is after they file the will with the court where the will goes through validation, and the executor gets an official appointment. Since anything can happen between the time you create the will and when you die, you may want to appoint an alternate executor. Do the same with the guardian.
- Taking these as the checklists for your free last will and testament in Texas, you should be good to go. But, not before you meet the requirements of Probate Code §57, et seq.
- The provisions of the law require the testator (creator of the will) to be at least 18 years although this does not apply to individuals serving in the armed forces or legally married individuals.
- The testator should be of sound mind, able to make decisions and to understand the repercussions of their decisions.
- The testator should have the right and the power to make their last will.
- It should have the testator’s signature or the signature of the person directed by the testator and in his or her presence.
- Unless the testator prepares a handwritten will, it must have the signatures of 2 or more witnesses aged 14 or older.
- The state accepts all forms of written wills – forms or handwritten (holographic).
- You must indicate who inherits your estate. Put down their names and the percentage or exact dollar value they will inherit. Be specific about the indivisible items.
Consequences of not creating a will in Texas
Without a will, the state invokes intestacy laws. These laws have complex rules, but primarily, the property is inherited by the children, surviving spouse or any other close family member. Without any family, the estate reverts to the state.
Are you ready to write a last will? Use our last will and testament forms available online and accessible from any city in Texas: Dallas, Houston, Austin, El Paso, San Antonio, and Waco among others.