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What is a Will?

It dawned on me the other day that, while I know what a Will is, maybe some of you do not. Therefore, in this brochure I will attempt to explain what a Will is and what the requirements are for one to be valid.
A testator is a person who leaves a Will in force at his or her death. A Will is a legal instrument which states how the testator’s property is to be distributed at death. A valid Will avoids many of the problems that may arise from dying without a Will and allows a person to leave property to the persons he or she desires. In addition to naming the recipients of the testator’s property, the Will also designates the individual(s) who will manage the property and care for minor children. In larger estates, the Will often contains provisions that minimize estate taxes.
For a Will to accomplish any or all of these results, it must have been properly signed. Texas recognizes three kinds of Wills: oral, handwritten and typewritten. I should caution you that the process of proving up an oral, handwritten or homemade Will is substantially more involved and expensive.
To execute any of these Wills, the testator must meet the following basic requirements:
1) Be at least 18 years of age, married, or serving in the armed forces;
2) Be of sound mind at the time of execution;
3) Not be unduly or fraudulently induced (forced or deceived) to make the Will; and
4) Have testamentary intent.
Additional requirements exist depending on whether the Will is oral, handwritten or typewritten. There are “cookie cutter” Will forms available, however, often they originated from another state, are outdated or fail to meet additional requirements not listed here. For these reasons, the best approach is to have a Texas attorney prepare a typewritten (or formal) Will and oversee the proper execution of the Will.
If you have a question regarding Elder Law, Estate Planning, Living Trusts or Probate in the Huntsville area, please contact us at 936-295-6394 or visit our website. Call today and we will connect you with an experienced Elder Law and Probate Attorney. We can schedule you a face to face appointment to discuss your circumstances. If you have questions or are considering any aspect of your estate plan, probate, your health care directives, etc. we can help! We look forward to hearing from you and assisting you with any and all elder law and estate planning needs.
Sam A. Moak is an attorney with the Huntsville law firm of Moak & Moak, P.C.. He is licensed to practice in all fields of law by the Supreme Court of Texas, is a Member of the State Bar College, and is a member of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas. www.moakandmoak.com

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