Every state has a similar process for making a will, but there are important differences that you should know when writing your will. Each state has its own statutory laws surrounding wills—and if you fail to meet these requirements, the court will reject your will. To make an online will in Texas, be sure you understand what is necessary for it to be recognized as valid. If you are making an online will, make sure you use an online will that is customized for Texas.
Can I make an online will in Texas?
Yes, you can make a will online in Texas. To do so, use an online will making service. Our lawyer reviewed multiple online wills to find the best online will making service. USLegalWills delivered the highest quality online last will and testament.
Here are the legal requirements for a will to be valid in Texas:
- The Testator (person making the will) must be at least 18 years of age; or lawfully married, a member of the U.S. armed forces, or a Merchant Mariner.
- The Testator must sign the will in front of two witness (witnesses must be at least 14 years old and competent to serve as witness), and
- The witnesses must sign the will in front of the Testator.
The will must be in writing. After making a will online, you must print it out. Some states allow digital-only wills—which are wills that are made online, signed, and witnessed electronically without making a paper copy—however, the state of Texas does not allow digital-only wills. The will must be on hard copy with physical signatures.
Your witnesses should not be beneficiaries in your will; if a witness is an “interested party” (a beneficiary), they risk losing their inheritance. To avoid legal complications, it is best to use two “disinterested parties” to act as the witnesses to your will.
Does Texas require a notarized will?
A will must be verified that it meets all the legal requirements when it is presented in probate court. If your will is not notarized, the court may ask the witnesses to testify to the legitimacy of the will. This can cause the probate process to be delayed, especially if the witnesses have moved, died, or otherwise cannot be located. Most of the time, however, it is not the will itself that is notarized. There is a separate document, called a “self-proving affidavit,” that is notarized and attached to the will. Texas does allow wills to be “self-proved.”
To make your will “self-proved” in Texas, you can either:
- Sign your will in front of a notary public with a “self-proving affidavit” containing certain declarations. Or,
- You and your witnesses make sworn statements in front of a notary public attesting to the validity of the will.
Once you have these notarized documents, you attach them to the will—which now makes your will “self-proved.” Once your will is “self-proved,” it may be admitted to probate without the court requiring the witnesses to testify.
Can I name an executor in Texas?
Yes, in Texas, you can name an executor in a will made online. An executor is the individual named to settle a person’s estate, making sure the will is followed after the person’s death. It is a good idea to choose someone to be the executor and to name them in your will; you want to make sure the person you choose is someone you know well and you trust. An executor of an estate has many responsibilities, so it is important to make sure this person is up to the task. If you do not name someone as the executor in your will, the probate court will name someone (which can cause delays in the probate process).
There are certain requirements for a person to be qualified to serve as an executor. In Texas, an executor must:
- Be 18 years of age or older,
- Be of sound mind, and
- Not have been convicted of a felony (unless pardoned).
The probate judge can also reject a potential executor if they are found to be “unsuitable” or have any conflicts of interest.
To name an executor who lives out-of-state, there are some specific guidelines in Texas:
- Any non-resident executor is required to appoint an in-state agent to accept legal documents on behalf of the estate.
Do I need an attorney to make an online will in Texas?
No, you do not need an attorney to make an online will in Texas; as long as the will satisfies the state requirements, it is considered valid in Texas. However, if you have a large estate or a complex will, it is always best to consult an estate planning attorney. For those with a simple estate and an uncomplicated will, online will making is a good option. Make sure to use an online will making service that offers state-specific templates, and make sure you meet all of the legal criteria that Texas requires.
What types of wills are valid in Texas?
In Texas, any sort of will that fulfills the federal and state-specific standards is legal and valid, whether made online or not.
Can I make a holographic will in Texas?
A handwritten last will and testament is referred to as a holographic will—a holographic will is written and signed by the Testator (the person making the will) with no attesting witnesses.
In Texas, a holographic will is valid if the will is written completely in the Testator’s handwriting. However, holographic wills frequently face challenges when presented to the probate court. People often forget to include important provisions, use unclear or incorrect language, and the will needs to be proven authentic.
To potentially avoid legal complications, it is better to use an online will making service and to have your will properly witnessed.
Can I make a nuncupative or video will in Texas?
A nuncupative will is an oral will, and sometimes people want to record their oral wills on video. In any state, a nuncupative will is considered to be a last resort type of will; they are sometimes known as a “deathbed will,” often made when someone is facing imminent death. While not ideal, nuncupative wills are legal in Texas under certain conditions.
For a nuncupative will to be valid in Texas:
- It must have been made during last sickness.
- It must have been made at home (or where the Testator has resided for at least 10 days), unless taken away sick and dies.
- If the provisions of a nuncupative will exceed more than $30, three credible witnesses must prove that the Testator called upon someone to bear witness and that such is their will.
Like holographic wills, nuncupative wills often face challenges in the probate court. Nuncupative wills are easily contested as well. If time and health allow, a written, witnessed, and legally binding will is much better for avoiding legal delays when settling the estate.
How is a living will different from an online will in Texas?
An advance directive, sometimes known as a living will, is a legally binding document containing instructions on medical decisions and end-of-life care. A living will and a last will and testament are two separate documents; they serve two distinct purposes. While a living will is for medical directives (and end-of-life care), a last will and testament is for instructions for after a person’s death. They each have different requirements to become legally binding and recognized as valid, but you can make both a living will and a last will and testament online. To read more about living wills in Texas, you can go here.
Here is an overview of information and requirements for a living will in Texas:
- It can only be made by a competent adult.
- It must be in writing and attested by two witnesses; or,
- If made orally, it must be done in front of two witnesses and an attending physician.
- The directive will become part of the medical record.
- It is temporarily voided during pregnancy.
Why do I need to make a will online in Texas?
If someone dies without a will, then the intestacy laws of Texas determine what happens to their estate. Texas will appoint a guardian for any minor children and an executor of the estate to pay any debts and to handle the distribution of property. The estate will be divided between surviving family members according to the intestacy distribution laws. This often becomes a lengthy legal process, with property often held up in the probate court for months. To avoid this, as well as to decide on specific provisions, you should make a will.
If you have any minor children, it is important to make a will so that you can appoint guardians for them and to plan for their future. If you want to specify how to distribute your estate or leave property to non-family members, you can only do that by having a will.
What can I include in an online will in Texas?
You can include various types of provisions when you make a will in Texas (whether made online or other). Besides naming an executor for your estate, you can also include:
- A guardian for minor children, as well as a guardian to oversee any property left to minor children.
- A trusted person to care for any pets.
- Distribution of property or gifts to family, friends, charities, or other organizations.
- Distribution of family heirlooms.
- Distribution of personal and sentimental items.
What should not be included in a will in Texas?
A last will and testament is not the appropriate place to leave end-of-life care/medical directives or burial/funeral arrangements. When a person dies, funeral plans are usually arranged right away. Following the funeral, the will is read and the estate is settled. If funeral instructions are included in a will, family members may not be aware of them until after the funeral. Any medical directives or end-of-life care stipulations left in a will are not considered to be legally binding, even if your family knows the contents of your will.
For advance directives and end-of-life care, you want to make a living will. Be sure you follow the guidelines for it to be legally enforceable.
To leave your funeral instructions, you can speak with a family member or create a separate document outlining what you want for your funeral arrangements. Be sure to make copies for the executor of your estate and other trusted family members if you make a document detailing such instructions.
Can I change or revoke an online will made in Texas?
Whether made online or not, a will is a legally binding document. The will, however, can be changed or revoked at any time.
In Texas, here are ways to change or revoke a will:
- You can revoke a will by physically destroying it with the intent of revoking it.
- You can order someone else to destroy it physically in front of you.
- You can make a new will that states it revokes the old will.
- You can make a document that states it revokes the will (which must be finalized in the same formalities of a will).
It’s a good idea to update your will following important life events, like marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, the acquisition of new assets, or relocation to another state or country. With major changes, it is best to revoke your current will and make a new will. If you just have small adjustments to make, you can add a codicil to your will instead. A codicil is a written amendment that contains the changes, which you finalize in the same way you do a will.
How do I finalize an online will in Texas?
Once you make a will in Texas, you want to finalize it by:
- If you made it online, print it out.
- Sign it in front of two witnesses, and
- Have your witnesses sign it in front of you.
To make a will in Texas “self-proved,” either sign the will in front of a notary public or make sworn statements with your witnesses in front of a notary.
Be sure to consider these special considerations in Texas:
- Divorce revokes any provisions left to your spouse and voids if named executor. This also applies to any relative of your spouse (who is also not your relative). It is a good idea to revisit your will after divorce to understand how it impacts your will.
USLegalWills is our recommendation for an online last will and testament. Their pricing is fair and the process of making an online will is easy. You can also create a Living Will. USLegalWills offers a free service to document funeral wishes and save final messages for loved ones.