Texas' Requirements for a Will
Texas' Requirements for a Will
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Texas' Requirements for a Will

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Summary of Texas' Will Requirements:

Minimum Age to Make a Will 18
Written Document Required Yes
Nuncupative Wills (Oral) No
Holographic Wills (Hand-Written, Unwitnessed) No
Number of Witnesses Required 2
Self-Proving Affidavit Allowed
Statutory Form for Self-Proving Affidavit Yes

 

 

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Statutes Governing Texas' Will Requirements:

 

WHO MAY EXECUTE A WILL

Every person who has attained the age of eighteen years, or who is or has been lawfully married, or who is a member of the armed forces of the United States or of the auxiliaries thereof or of the maritime service at the time the will is made, being of sound mind, shall have the right and power to make a last will and testament, under the rules and limitations prescribed by law.

Texas Statutes, Probate Code, § 57.

 

INTERESTS WHICH MAY PASS UNDER A WILL

(a) Every person competent to make a last will and testament may thereby devise and bequeath all the estate, right, title, and interest in property the person has at the time of the person's death, subject to the limitations prescribed by law.

(b) A person who makes a last will and testament may:

(1) disinherit an heir; and

(2) direct the disposition of property or an interest passing under the will or by intestacy.

(c) A legacy of personal property does not include any contents of the property unless the will directs that the contents are included in the legacy. A devise of real property does not include any personal property located on or associated with the real property or any contents of personal property located on the real property unless the will directs that the personal property or contents are included in the devise.

(d) In this section:

(1) "Contents" means tangible personal property, other than titled personal property, found inside of or on a specifically bequeathed or devised item. The term includes clothing, pictures, furniture, coin collections, and other items of tangible personal property that do not require a formal transfer of title and that are located in another item of tangible personal property such as a cedar chest or other furniture.

(2) "Titled personal property" includes all tangible personal property represented by a certificate of title, certificate of ownership, written label, marking, or designation that signifies ownership by a person. The term includes a motor vehicle, motor home, motorboat, or other similar property that requires a formal transfer of title.

Texas Statutes, Probate Code, § 58.

 

REQUISITES OF A WILL

(a) Every last will and testament, except where otherwise provided by law, shall be in writing and signed by the testator in person or by another person for him by his direction and in his presence, and shall, if not wholly in the handwriting of the testator, be attested by two or more credible witnesses above the age of fourteen years who shall subscribe their names thereto in their own handwriting in the presence of the testator. Such a will or testament may, at the time of its execution or at any subsequent date during the lifetime of the testator and the witnesses, be made self-proved, and the testimony of the witnesses in the probate thereof may be made unnecessary, by the affidavits of the testator and the attesting witnesses, made before an officer authorized to administer oaths under the laws of this State. Provided that nothing shall require an affidavit or certificate of any testator or testatrix as a prerequisite to self-proof of a will or testament other than the certificate set out below. The affidavits shall be evidenced by a certificate, with official seal affixed, of such officer attached or annexed to such will or testament in form and contents substantially as follows:

 

THE STATE OF TEXAS

COUNTY OF ________________

Before me, the undersigned authority, on this day personally appeared ______________, _______________, and _______________, known to me to be the testator and the witnesses, respectively, whose names are subscribed to the annexed or foregoing instrument in their respective capacities, and, all of said persons being by me duly sworn, the said _______________, testator, declared to me and to the said witnesses in my presence that said instrument is his last will and testament, and that he had willingly made and executed it as his free act and deed; and the said witnesses, each on his oath stated to me, in the presence and hearing of the said testator, that the said testator had declared to them that said instrument is his last will and testament, and that he executed same as such and wanted each of them to sign it as a witness; and upon their oaths each witness stated further that they did sign the same as witnesses in the presence of the said testator and at his request; that he was at that time eighteen years of age or over (or being under such age, was or had been lawfully married, or was then a member of the armed forces of the United States or of an auxiliary thereof or of the Maritime Service) and was of sound mind; and that each of said witnesses was then at least fourteen years of age.

 

_________________________________
Testator

_________________________________
Witness

_________________________________
Witness


Subscribed and sworn to before me by the said ____________, testator, and by the said _____________ and _____________, witnesses, this ______ day of ________________ A.D.


(SEAL) ________________
(Signed)
(Official Capacity of Officer)

 

(b) An affidavit in form and content substantially as provided by Subsection (a) of this section is a "self-proving affidavit." A will with a self-proving affidavit subscribed and sworn to by the testator and witnesses attached or annexed to the will is a "self-proved will." Substantial compliance with the form of such affidavit shall suffice to cause the will to be self-proved. For this purpose, an affidavit that is subscribed and acknowledged by the testator and subscribed and sworn to by the witnesses would suffice as being in substantial compliance. A signature on a self-proving affidavit is considered a signature to the will if necessary to prove that the will was signed by the testator or witnesses, or both, but in that case, the will may not be considered a self-proved will.

(c) A self-proved will may be admitted to probate without the testimony of any subscribing witness, but otherwise it shall be treated no differently than a will not self-proved. In particular and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, a self-proved will may be contested, or revoked or amended by a codicil in exactly the same fashion as a will not self-proved.

Texas Statutes, Probate Code, § 59.

 

EXCEPTION PERTAINING TO HOLOGRAPHIC WILLS

Where the will is written wholly in the handwriting of the testator, the attestation of the subscribing witnesses may be dispensed with. Such a will may be made self-proved at any time during the testator's lifetime by the attachment or annexation thereto of an affidavit by the testator to the effect that the instrument is his last will; that he was at least eighteen years of age when he executed it (or, if under such age, was or had been lawfully married, or was then a member of the armed forces of the United States or of an auxiliary thereof or of the Maritime Service); that he was of sound mind; and that he has not revoked such instrument.

Texas Statutes, Probate Code, § 60.

 

BEQUEST TO WITNESS

Should any person be a subscribing witness to a will, and also be a legatee or devisee therein, if the will cannot be otherwise established, such bequest shall be void, and such witness shall be allowed and compelled to appear and give his testimony in like manner as if no such bequest had been made. But, if in such case the witness would have been entitled to a share of the estate of the testator had there been no will, he shall be entitled to as much of such share as shall not exceed the value of the bequest to him in the will.

Texas Statutes, Probate Code, § 61.

 

CAPACITY TO MAKE A NUNCUPATIVE WILL

Any person who is competent to make a last will and testament may dispose of his personal property by a nuncupative will made under the conditions and limitations prescribed in this Code.

Texas Statutes, Probate Code, § 64.

 

REQUISITES OF A NUNCUPATIVE WILL

No nuncupative will shall be established unless it be made in the time of the last sickness of the deceased, at his home or where he has resided for ten days or more next preceding the date of such will, except when the deceased is taken sick away from home and dies before he returns to such home; nor when the value exceeds Thirty Dollars, unless it be proved by three credible witnesses that the testator called on a person to take notice or bear testimony that such is his will, or words of like import.

Texas Statutes, Probate Code, § 65

 

PROOF OF WRITTEN WILL PRODUCED IN COURT

(a) Self-Proved Will. If a will is self-proved as provided in this Code, no further proof of its execution with the formalities and solemnities and under the circumstances required to make it a valid will shall be necessary.

(b) Attested Written Will. If not self-proved as provided in this Code, an attested written will produced in court may be proved:

(1) By the sworn testimony or affidavit of one or more of the subscribing witnesses thereto, taken in open court.

 

(2) If all the witnesses are non-residents of the county, or those who are residents are unable to attend court, by the sworn testimony of any one or more of them by deposition, either written or oral, taken in the same manner and under the same rules as depositions taken in other civil actions; or, if no opposition in writing to such will is filed on or before the date set for hearing thereon, then by the sworn testimony or affidavit of two witnesses taken in open court, or by deposition in the manner provided herein, to the signature or the handwriting evidenced thereby of one or more of the attesting witnesses, or of the testator, if he signed the will; or, if it be shown under oath to the satisfaction of the court that, diligent search having been made, only one witness can be found who can make the required proof, then by the sworn testimony or affidavit of such one taken in open court, or by deposition in the manner provided herein, to such signatures or handwriting.

 

(3) If none of the witnesses is living, or if all of such witnesses are members of the armed forces of the United States of America or of any auxiliary thereof, or of the armed forces reserve of the United States of America or of any auxiliary thereof, or of the Maritime Service, and are beyond the jurisdiction of the court, by two witnesses to the handwriting of one or both of the subscribing witnesses thereto, or of the testator, if signed by him, and such proof may be either by sworn testimony or affidavit taken in open court, or by deposition, either written or oral, taken in the same manner and under the same rules as depositions taken in other civil actions; or, if it be shown under oath to the satisfaction of the court that, diligent search having been made, only one witness can be found who can make the required proof, then by the sworn testimony or affidavit of such one taken in open court, or by deposition in the manner provided herein, to such signatures or handwriting.

(c) Holographic Will. If not self-proved as provided in this Code, a will wholly in the handwriting of the testator may be proved by two witnesses to his handwriting, which evidence may be by sworn testimony or affidavit taken in open court, or, if such witnesses are non-residents of the county or are residents who are unable to attend court, by deposition, either written or oral, taken in the same manner and under the same rules as depositions taken in other civil actions.

(d) Depositions if No Contest Filed. If no contest has been filed, depositions for the purpose of establishing a will may be taken in the same manner as provided in this Code for the taking of depositions where there is no opposing party or attorney of record upon whom notice and copies of interrogatories may be served; and, in such event, this Subsection, rather than the preceding portions of this Section which provide for the taking of depositions under the same rules as depositions in other civil actions, shall be applicable.

Texas Statutes, Probate Code, §84.

 

PROOF OF WRITTEN WILL NOT PRODUCED IN COURT

A written will which cannot be produced in court shall be proved in the same manner as provided in the preceding Section for an attested written will or an holographic will, as the case may be, and the same amount and character of testimony shall be required to prove such will as is required to prove a written will produced in court; but, in addition thereto, the cause of its non-production must be proved, and such cause must be sufficient to satisfy the court that it cannot by any reasonable diligence be produced, and the contents of such will must be substantially proved by the testimony of a credible witness who has read it or heard it read.

Texas Statutes, Probate Code, §85.

 

PROOF OF NUNCUPATIVE WILL

(a) Notice and Proof of Nuncupative Will. No nuncupative will shall be proved within fourteen days after the death of the testator, or until those who would have been entitled by inheritance, had there been no will, have been summoned to contest the same, if they desire to do so.

(b) Testimony Pertaining to Nuncupative Wills. After six months have elapsed from the time of speaking the alleged testamentary words, no testimony shall be received to prove a nuncupative will, unless the testimony or the substance thereof shall have been committed to writing within six days after making the will.

(c) When Value of Estate Exceeds Thirty Dollars. When the value of the estate exceeds Thirty Dollars, a nuncupative will must be proved by three credible witnesses that the testator called on a person to take notice or bear testimony that such is his will, or words of like import.

Texas Statutes, Probate Code, §86

[Reference - Texas Requirements for a Will]

 

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