5 Important Questions to Keep in Mind when Drafting a Will in Texas
Having a Will is a great way to save your family stress and money. Texas has unique requirements for what must be in a Will and how it must be signed for it to be valid. If a document purporting to be a Will does not follow these requirements it can result in the court acting like there was no Will at all. When a person dies without a Will, the property that the person owned when they died will be given out by the court in accordance with the Texas Estates Code which may not be how a person wanted their property distributed. One blog post could not cover exactly what should be in a Will in Texas, that is something that you should talk to an attorney about. This blog post is simply going to address 5 considerations to keep in mind when you are drafting a Will that you may want to bring up with an attorney.
1. IS THE WILL IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE ESTATES CODE?: The most important consideration when drafting a Will in Texas is whether you are following the requirements of the Estates Code. Sometimes when downloading a form off the internet a person may simply fill in the document and sign it, sometimes even in front of a notary. Unfortunately, in Texas, this does not meet the requirements of a valid will and is unlikely to be considered a holographic Will. The biggest issue with this is that the person does not find out that their Will is invalid during their lifetime. It is typically only after they pass away that their family members are told their loved-one’s wishes will not be followed because their Will was not executed correctly.
2. WHO WILL BE THE EXECUTOR?: Deciding who will be the executor of your estate can be a tough decision. Typically, a Will will name an executor and a back-up executor in case the primary executor can’t or won’t serve as executor. An executor should be a person you trust and also a person who is organized. An executor will need to be capable of dealing with various banks or other businesses in most cases. You may be tempted to name the person you are closest to in your lifetime, but that may not always be the best person to serve. Speaking with an attorney about the responsibilities an executor will have is a great way to narrow down who you should name in your Will.
3. WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP THE ORIGINAL WILL?: In Texas, it is important to let someone know where to find your Original Will in order to admit it to probate court. Many people may think that a Safe-deposit box is the best place for their Will, but problems may arise whenever you do not give someone access to the safe-deposit box. There are also practical considerations that need to be taken into account, such as fire, flood, or other ways that a Will can be destroyed. You can do everything exactly right in executing a valid Will, but if it can’t be found after your death it may have all been pointless.
4. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE DONE FOR YOUR FUNERAL AND/OR BURIAL?: One very useful way to use a Will is to let your loved ones know what you want at your funeral or how you want to be buried. Sometimes people plan funerals ahead of time and may have even pre-paid a funeral home for a service. This is information that can be included in a Will and can help ease some of the stress experienced after your death. The less guesswork people have to do after you are not here to speak for yourself, the less room there is for disagreements.
5. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO WITH YOUR PROPERTY?: Obviously one of the most important functions of a valid Will is letting people and the Probate Court know who should get your property. This is a decision that will be different for each person. It is important to clearly communicate with your attorney exactly what you would like to happen with your property. There are certain things that may not be able to be done with a Will and there are things that may require additional costs in administering your estate. These are all things that an estate planning attorney can explain when discussing how you would like your Will to be drafted.
This list is obviously not an exhaustive list of things that you need to consider when drafting a Will. It is always important to consult with an attorney when drafting any estate planning documents. If you have any questions about executing a Will in Williamson County or the surrounding areas, contact the Law Office of Margaret McCroan at 512-777-0850 and we can schedule a time for a free phone consultation.