Are Homemade Wills Legal in Texas?

By Heather Frances J.D.

Texas does not require you to have an attorney draft your will, so you can write one yourself at home or complete one online. However, your homemade typewritten will must meet all the same formalities as if your will had been drafted by an attorney, and an online legal services provider can help you meet these formalities. Texas will also allow handwritten -- or holographic -- wills, but they come with inherent disadvantages.

Purpose of Wills

A will provides instructions to those you leave behind when you pass away. It can include directions on who should receive your property, who should manage your estate and who should be appointed as guardian for your minor children. Without a will, Texas law determines how your estate will be distributed. Texas recognizes both homemade typewritten and holographic -- or handwritten – wills, whether you create your own will or have it drafted for you.

Testator Qualifications

Before you can make a will -- homemade or otherwise – you must be at least 18 years old, legally married or serving in the military. If not, you are not considered legally competent to draft or sign a will. You must also be of sound mind and free from undue influence. At the time you sign the will, you must have the intent to devise your property at your death. In other words, you must understand the purpose of your will.

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Holographic Wills

A holographic will must be entirely in your own handwriting, which means it cannot be partially typed. If you make a holographic will, you do not have to have anyone witness you write or sign the will. After you make a holographic will, you may make the will “self-proving” to make it easier to probate after your death. This requires a self-proving affidavit, which is a statement confirming the holographic will is yours, you were at least 18 (or married or in the military) and of sound mind when you drafted it, and have not revoked the will.

Typewritten Wills

If you make a typewritten will, or one that is partly typewritten, you must sign the will or have someone else sign it in your presence and at your direction. You must also have two credible witnesses, 14 years of age or older, sign the will in your presence. You and these witnesses may also create a self-proving affidavit; by doing so, the witnesses do not have to appear in court after your death to prove the will is valid.

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Illinois Laws on Wills

References

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Standard Will Vs. Living Will

Planning your estate may involve creating several documents to address your end-of-life care before you die and your property after you die. Two of these documents may be a will and living will. A will directs the distribution of your assets after you die and a living will directs your health care while you are alive.

Self-Proving Will Statutes in New York

Writing a valid will ensures that your property is divided according to your wishes. If you fail to make a will, or if you do not sign it properly, the state authorities will make those decisions on your behalf. To be legally valid, a will should be signed and witnessed in accordance with state laws. A self-proving will contains a certification that the will has been properly executed and makes the probate procedure more straightforward. Article 3 of the New York Code sets out the laws relating to signing wills in the state.

Holographic Wills in Colorado

Your will can name someone to manage your estate, dictate who should inherit your property and even nominate guardians to look after your minor children when you die. However, your will cannot do any of these things if it is not valid under your state’s laws. Colorado allows holographic wills, but each must meet certain standards under Colorado law.

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