Drafting a will is the most basic estate planning step an individual can take. It is also one of the most important. If someone dies without a will, Texas state law determines what happens to their property. Family members will usually inherit everything if someone dies without a will in place.
Even if someone wants the majority of their property to pass to their family members, they may still want certain people to receive specific assets. Those who put together a will can control what the people they love inherit from their estates. They need their documents to conform with Texas law to hold up under scrutiny in probate court. Witnesses are crucial for the creation of enforceable wills in Texas.
What does the state require?
Anyone drafting and signing a will needs to have witnesses present. Those witnesses can attest to the identity of the person signing the documents and their mental state at that time. In Texas, witnesses only need to be 14 years of age and of sound mind.
They will also need to physically sign the will to affirm that the testator was aware of what actions they took and what impact their choices would have on their beneficiaries in the future. At least two witnesses are necessary to create valid documents. They should ideally not be listed among the beneficiaries of the estate to protect against conflicts of interest. The one exception to this rule involves a scenario in which someone fully hand-writes their will in compliance with Texas state law.
Ultimately, ensuring that one has met the witness requirements is important for those drafting testamentary documents in Texas.