When discussing estate planning with people, I’ve heard it said a few times, “I could just write my own will.” While this is true, it is not as simple as it sounds. There are rules associated with writing a will, whether it is formally drafted by a professional, or if it is written by a person for their own benefit. For a moment, let’s take a look at the intricacies of a self-written, or holographic, will.
In Texas, a holographic will must meet two basic requirements.
1. It must be wholly written in the handwriting of the testator.
2. It must be signed by the testator.
Unlike a formal will, a holographic will does not need to be acknowledged by two witnesses, but it must still be readily identifiable as a will. The written document must be a final and lasting statement of one’s intent for their property. The courts call this “testamentary intent.” This means that a list of property, notes about what to do with said property, or a memo of thoughts concerning a person’s estate would not meet this test because these are considered intermediate steps, intended to be converted into a last will & testament.
With the increase in internet-based kits that claim to be “all you need” to write your own wills and legal documents, it is important to remember that very often these kits do not meet the basic requirements established by the state. It is very difficult and expensive to remedy a will that has been found to be insufficient, and that cost will be born by your surviving loved ones. Although the intent of a will is to clearly guide your family and loved ones, an invalid will could actually result in a hardship for them. To ensure that your last will and testament meets the standards set by the state of Texas, please contact an experienced attorney to discuss your desired wishes and protect your assets from excess taxation and obstruction.