How to Write a Will in Texas

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

How to Write a Will in Texas

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

A will is a useful estate-planning tool for those who want to dictate on their own terms how and to whom their property transfers after their death. When a person dies with a valid will, a Texas probate court oversees the administration of the will and the distribution of the decedent's estate to any named beneficiaries. When writing a will, it is important to comply with Texas state law. Otherwise, a probate court could invalidate your will and decide to apply the state's default laws of intestate succession, which might conflict with your intentions. If you would like professional help drafting a will, contact an attorney or an online service provider for assistance.

Man in blue button up shirt going over document with pen

Personal Requirements for Drafting Will in Texas

There are a few prerequisites you must meet to execute a valid will in Texas. Under Texas Probate Code Section 251.001, a person must be of sound mind, which generally means they know what they are creating and have never been deemed incompetent in a former legal proceeding. A person creating a will must also be at least 18 years of age, or alternatively, either legally married or a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Elements of a Valid Will

In Texas, a valid will must meet three general requirements (with some exceptions). First, the will must be in writing. As of 2007, Texas no longer recognizes or accepts oral wills. Every will must be in writing, but it can be either handwritten or typed. Second, the testator must sign their will. If they cannot sign the will, another person can sign on behalf of the testator in their presence and under their direction. Third, except for situations in which the will is entirely in the testator's handwriting, two attesting witnesses who are at least 14 years old must watch the testator sign their will and then sign it themselves.

How to Write a Will in Texas

If you and the will you plan to draft meet all the requirements set forth by the state of Texas, you can take the following steps to create it.

1. Clearly indicate that you intend the document to be your will.

Either handwrite or type at the top of the document "Last Will and Testament of [your full name]". You should also include your address, the date, and a declaration that you are of sound mind and body.

2. Provide an inventory of your property.

You should use the bulk of the will to assign your property to your chosen beneficiaries. Create an inventory of any assets that you want to pass through your will. You can list almost any asset, including money, real estate, automobiles, or personal belongings. The only assets that cannot transfer with a will are those that already have beneficiaries (such as insurance policies, investment accounts, or property held in trust) or any property owned jointly (such as a marital home owned by both spouses).

3. Designate beneficiaries.

After you compile a list of all of your assets, you can assign each piece of property to a chosen beneficiary. In your will, you should include a detailed description of the property and the person receiving it. For example, if you include two cars in your will, you should clearly describe each car and the person to whom it should pass. Include any special terms or instructions for how you want your property distributed.

4. Choose and name an executor.

An executor is the person in charge of administering your will and distributing your estate according to the terms you set forth in the will. You should clearly identify the individual you've chosen as executor somewhere in your will.

5. Execute your will.

To execute your will, you must sign the will in front of two attesting witnesses who must then also sign your will in front of you. This completes the process of writing a will.

Once you have completed your will, keep it somewhere safe, and let the executor know where they can find it upon your death.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

Protect your loved ones.

Start my estate plan