Wills and Estates

        In Texas, if you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to intestacy laws.  Texas’s intestacy law gives your property to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and any children that you might have with someone other than your spouse.  After that, your grandchildren then your parents will get your property. This list continues with increasingly distant relatives, including siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, and your spouse’s relatives.  If you have no living relatives then the state will take your property.

       If you have millions of dollars, congratulations.  You should take a look at our information on the current estate tax laws.  There are also some tips on avoiding paying more than is necessary.

       You can make your own will in Texas.  You may want to consult a lawyer in some situations.  Some situations where it is wise to consult an attorney is if you have reason to believe that there is a good chance of a will contest, if you want to disinherit your spouse or you have a sizable estate.  In these circumstances it is smart to talk with an attorney.

       Generally speaking in order to ensure that a will is more likely to be accepted it is wise to sign your will in front of two witnesses and have them sign the will.  In Texas it is not necessary to notarize a will to make it legal.

       Texas law provides for a “self-proving” will.  A self-proving will does require a notary.  The benefit of a self-proving will is that it will shorten and simplify the probate process.  The main reason for this is that the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it.

       With a self proving will the person that is writing the will, the “testator” and their witnesses go to a notary and sign an affidavit that proves they are who they claim to be and that they are willingly signing the will.

       In Texas, someone can use their will to name an executor who will ensure that the provisions in the will shall be followed.  It is smart to write a letter to the executor that explains what the job requires. If a person does not name an executor then the probate court will appoint someone to act as an executor.

       Computers have changed the practice of law in many ways.  One of these is that having a will prepared is cheaper than ever.  If a will is simple and an estate is relatively small then the expense of creating a will should be less than $1000.00.