Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament, or will, is the keystone of any estate plan. In a will, you can clarify how you want your assets distributed upon your death. While Texas intestate laws provide default rules regarding the distribution of property, these laws serve as a last resort and do not consider your individual circumstances, your wishes or the needs of your descendants. The Houston estate planning lawyers at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC have more than three decades of experience helping clients from all backgrounds develop custom-tailored wills. We can help you create an estate plan that will provide you and your loved ones with much-needed certainty.Who Should Consider Drafting a Last Will and Testament?
Too often, people wait to draft a will until they approach retirement age. However, given the uncertainty of everyday life, most people can benefit from drafting a will much earlier in their life. For example, if any of the following apply to you, a will can help clarify your wishes and reduce the chances of familial disputes.
- You own significant assets
- You own real estate
- You have minor children
- You care for a parent or an adult child living with a disability
- You have a large family
- You own a business
One of the main benefits a will provides is certainty. When you clarify your wishes, whether it be who inherits certain property, who serves as the executor of your estate, or who is appointed as the legal guardian for your minor children, you significantly reduce the burdens placed upon your family. Without a will, individual family members may find themselves scrambling to guess what your wishes were. This can lead to a prolonged and expensive legal process, family in-fighting and other unnecessary—and entirely preventable—drama.Requirements of a Texas Will
State law requires wills to comply with specific rules. If a will fails to meet the following requirements, a court is unlikely to enforce it.
First, a Texas will must be “in writing,” which means either typed or handwritten. Thus, a digital .PDF file on your computer is not valid even if it is signed.
Second, unless you are married or in the military, you must be 18 years old to draft a will.
Third, you must be of sound mind and memory, and the will must be made freely and voluntarily.
Fourth, a will must contain detailed instructions about your wishes after your passing.
Finally, unless a will is completely handwritten and signed, you must obtain the signature of two people who witnessed you sign your will. Witnesses must be over the age of 14 and cannot stand to benefit from any term in the will.Limitations of Wills
While a last will and testament serves as the foundation of any Houston estate plan, wills have their limits. For example, a will only becomes effective upon the death of the testator. Thus, even a well-drafted will does nothing to provide any clarity in the event of sudden incapacity. Similarly, assets covered in wills and holographic wills still must pass through the probate process which can be both time-consuming and expensive. If you are considering a will, it is essential to meet with an experienced Houston estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate plan addresses every aspect of your situation. At McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, our comprehensive estate planning practice provides clients with across-the-board services, including trust planning, special needs planning, probate avoidance and more. Regardless of your specific needs, we can help you develop an individualized estate plan that you can rely on for decades to come.Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney
If you are in the process of creating a Houston estate plan, or it has been years since you’ve updated an existing plan, reach out to the knowledgeable attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC to discuss your situation. At McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, we have decades of experience helping clients avoid the common pitfalls of DIY estate planning, ensuring they can rest assured that their affairs are in order.
We offer all prospective clients a no-obligation consultation during which we will take as much time as necessary to answer your questions and address your individual concerns. To learn more, and to schedule your legal consultation today, call (713) 333-8900. You can also reach us through our online contact form.