San Antonio Will Attorneys
Drafting the Ideal Will for Your Needs
Developing a thorough will is crucial if you want to ensure you and your loved ones receive appropriate care in the event you pass away or become incapacitated.
At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, our San Antonio will lawyers have the estate planning experience to help you draft a legally enforceable, comprehensive will.
Common Terms in Wills
Understanding the following terms will help you navigate the process of drafting and signing your will more easily:
- Testator: The person who drafts and executes (signs) the will.
- Beneficiary: An individual named in a will to receive property.
- Decedent: A deceased individual.
- Executor/Personal Representative/Administrator: A person who helps the probate court distribute property in a will.
- Probate court: The court responsible for executing a will after a testator's death and ensuring their end-of-life wishes are honored.
With that covered, let's move on to the process of drafting a will in Texas.
What Are the Requirements to Execute a Will in TX?
To create a will in Texas, the testator must be of sound mind. That means they understand how the will could impact their life (and the lives of their beneficiaries) and are fully aware of the ramifications of the will as they draft and sign it. A person with a mental disability or disorder such as dementia or Alzheimer's may sign a will, but if someone can prove in court the will was executed by someone without sound mind, the probate court may invalidate the will.
In addition to possessing the mental capacity to sign the will, the testator must be at least 18 years of age. An estate planning attorney can help you draft a comprehensive will that meets your needs, but most wills contain the following:
- Specifications for medical and financial power of attorney. Using power of attorney, a testator can establish an individual to manage their health and estate at the end of their life or if they become incapacitated.
- Details concerning how the testator's property and estate should be distributed among beneficiaries.
- Appointments for conservators and guardians if necessary. If the testator has minor children or currently acts as a conservator/guardian for a ward, they can recommend a new conservator/guardian for their children or ward in their will. A conservator helps a ward manage their estate and finances, while a guardian takes care of their day-to-day activities and rights.
- Appointment of an executor. An executor works with the probate court after a testator's death to ensure their will is properly executed.
For a court to accept a will and consider it legally enforceable, your will:
- Must be in writing;
- Be signed by you or an individual under your direction who signs it on your behalf;
- Be signed by at least two witnesses who witness you sign the will.
The probate court will call on these witnesses if you pass away or become incapacitated to verify the accuracy of the will and your end-of-life wishes.
To make your will even more easily enforced, you may want to notarize it. You can notarize a will by having all parties who signed the document also sign a self-proving affidavit in front of a notary public. This affidavit confirms that all parties are aware of the will and admit to signing it. Notarizing a will can help avoid accusations of invalidity during probate.
If you wish to revoke or change some aspect of your will, you can do so by:
- Destroying the will;
- Ordering someone else to destroy it on your behalf while you bear witness; or
- Drafting a new will that includes specifications for revoking the old will.
At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, we work with Texans to create legally binding, comprehensive wills that preserve their legacy and interests.