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Are Handwritten Wills Valid In Texas?

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Estate Planning

Creating a will is the simplest means of creating an estate plan. Many people work with an attorney to draft a polished and professional testamentary document. However, others might want to write a will on their own.

A handwritten will is theoretically an affordable solution for estate planning, but someone drafting a will may worry that the probate courts may not uphold the handwritten will that they create. Is a handwritten will a legal testamentary document that the Texas probate courts will recognize and uphold?

Handwritten wills are holographic wills

Texas has numerous statutes outlining the requirements for wills and other estate planning documents. In theory, a handwritten will can be legal and enforceable. State law refers to a handwritten will as a holographic will. The requirements for a holographic will are very specific. Generally, testators need to include a clear introduction stating their name and that they are of sound mind, as well as the date when they sign the document. They need to detail their testamentary wishes. Additionally, they need to have two witnesses who can attest to the validity of the documents.

The risks of a holographic will

There are numerous issues with relying on holographic wills. For example, if someone creates a multi-page document, the possibility of fraud is a potential concern. Someone who can imitate the testator’s handwriting might try to alter the terms of the will that they left behind by replacing a page of a holographic will. The possibility of people overlooking or misplacing a holographic will is another serious concern. Finally, it is very easy for someone trying to create their own estate planning paperwork to make mistakes or oversights that could compromise the validity of the documents they drafted.

Although a holographic will can be a fast and cheap estate planning solution, it is not necessarily the best option available. Those who partner with attorneys to draft wills can feel more confident about the validity of their documents. They could also work with that same attorney to establish other documents that protect them in a variety of scenarios, such as powers of attorney or trusts. Ultimately, learning the basics of Texas estate planning regulations may help people see the value of getting professional support when drafting their documents.