Your will contains your last instructions to family and friends about how you want your estate distributed. Although every will is different, there are essential items you should address and components you must include to ensure the document is legal.
Texas has requirements a will must meet to be considered valid. One of these is that there must be a physical document. In other words, it cannot only exist as a digital document. You must be at least 18 years old to create a valid will, and the will must be made voluntarily of your own free will by a person who is of sound mind.
Additionally, the document must include verbiage that makes it a will and be signed in the presence of two credible witnesses who must also sign it. Making the document legal is a vital part of creating a will, so you will likely want to work with a Dallas estate planning attorney who can ensure your document will be followed in the event of your death.
What Are the Most Important Things to Include?
When you create a will, certain factors should be present, including:
Identifying information: At the beginning of the document, your Dallas estate and trust attorney will include information such as your name, address, and a declaration that this document is your will. It must also include your marital status when the will is written and signed and your children’s names.
Debt payment: A section must tell the executor of the will how the remaining debts should be paid. This includes the assets that will be used to pay off the debt. This section can also include whether the home should be sold to pay the mortgage if there is one.
Assets: As you create your will, ensure you have listed all major assets and assets with personal value. Your will can work in combination with a trust to distribute your estate. You must list all assets that you want to give specifically to a particular beneficiary. These are individuals who receive your assets. You can leave everything to one person without putting in the specific details of your assets.
Beneficiaries: Your beneficiaries can be individuals, groups, or charities. It may be wise to name a contingent beneficiary in case the individual you choose to inherit your assets dies before you do.
Guardianship: If you have children younger than the age of majority in the state, your will should designate a guardian. In Texas, the age of majority is 18. If you do not designate a guardian for the younger children, the court will make that decision for you.
Trust: This is an optional component of a will. However, if you have minor children, you may want to include the creation of a testamentary trust for your minor children to help pay for the children’s support while they’re with the guardian. This trust is funded by your assets and can be distributed to the guardian throughout the time your children live with them.
Executor: Your will must identify a person or persons who will ensure your will is executed to your specifications. They will manage your assets, pay your debts, and distribute the estate based on the powers you give them in the will.
Does It Need to Be Notarized?
In Texas, a will does not need to be notarized. However, the statutes allow you the option of including a self-proving affidavit. In this case, you, the witnesses, and a notary sign the affidavit, which offers evidence that you signed the will following state laws.
The affidavit is attached to the will and is a substitute for the testimony of witnesses in court during probate. This can save your beneficiaries time and money as it demonstrates the will meets the legal requirement.
However, if your will does not meet the legal standard, the court can find it invalid, and the estate will then be distributed as if you died without a will.
Contact Staubus and Randall to Help Ensure Your Will Is Followed
If you need help with your estate planning or creating a trust, you’ll want to contact the experienced and compassionate estate litigation attorneys from Staubus and Randall. Our legal team can advise you about the different elements that must be included in a legal will. Our team will help you plan your estate and asset management to help care for your loved ones after you’ve died.
Contact our office today at 214-691-3411 to speak with a Dallas trust planning attorney who can help you address all the necessary scenarios that may affect your family. Don’t leave your family’s future to chance.