For the vast majority of people, a proper estate plan includes a professionally drafted will. However, many adults in the United States currently lack key estate planning document. Indeed, the AARP reports that more than half of adults do not have a will. Beyond that, some of the people who do have a will only have a handwritten version of the document. In Texas, a handwritten will is officially referred to as a holographic will.
You may use a handwritten will in Texas. A handwritten will can be a valid will. That being said, a handwritten will also has the potential to create some challenges. Beyond that, there are some very strict requirements that you must follow to ensure that your handwritten will is legally enforceable. Here, our Dallas, TX probate attorney provides an educational overview of what you need to know about holographic wills in Texas.
Handwritten Wills: Understanding the Legal Requirements in Texas
While handwritten wills are valid in Texas, there are strict rules and regulations that must be followed in order for them to be accepted by the court. If a handwritten will has a serious defect, it may not be valid. Under Texas law (Texas Estate Code § 256.154), a holographic will must meet the following four criteria:
- The will must be entirely in writing — it cannot be only partially written;
- The will must be in the handwriting of the testator;
- The will must be signed by the testator; and
- The will should be dated.
Holographic wills can be written on anything. There is no formal required structure or type of document. Indeed, even a will drafted on a simple scrap of paper might be legally valid in the state of Texas. That being said, handwritten wills often contain defects — they are far more susceptible to being challenged in the probate process.
Handwritten (Holographic) Wills May Be Disputed
For the most part, relying on a handwritten will is not recommended. Handwritten wills are more likely to be disputed than are wills that are professionally drafted by a qualified Dallas, TX estate planning attorney. As with other wills, handwritten wills go through the Texas probate process. The probate court must approve the validity of the will. With holographic wills, there are frequently disputes regarding the time and date that the will was signed. In the worst cases, there may even be multiple handwritten wills that were written at different dates. Fierce disputes can arise regarding how exactly assets are to be distributed.
Contact Our Texas Probate Lawyers Today
At the Law Offices of Brian Hill PLLC, our Dallas, TX probate attorney has the skills and experience to handle the full range of handwritten will cases. If your loved one only has a handwritten will, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm for legal guidance. From our office in the heart of Dallas, we handle probate cases throughout North Texas, including in Dallas County, Collin County, Ellis County, Denton County, Wise County, and Tarrant County.
This blog is available for educational purposes only and to give general information. It is not to provide legal advice. By using this blog, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between the attorney and yourself. Each person’s situation differs, and therefore, for your personal situation, please seek professional legal advice. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in Texas.