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Texas estate planning permits handwritten wills

Many people have definite ideas about what should happen to their estates after they die. Nevertheless, most people have not made provisions for their assets by writing a will or establishing a trust. For some, it may be the difficulty of considering their own mortality that causes them to delay estate planning. Others may believe making a formal will is too expensive. In Texas, however, there is an alternative.

Formal wills are usually written by attorneys and witnessed by two or more people. For less formal wills, many simply write their wishes by hand. This is known as a holographic will. The obvious benefits of holographic wills are that they do not cost any money, and a person can make one in the privacy of his or her home. However, if certain guidelines are not followed, a holographic will may be more trouble and cost one's estate more money than making a formal will.

Before a holographic will can be admitted to probate in Texas, someone must testify that it is written in the deceased person's handwriting. If no one can confirm this, the person's estate may be required to pay for a handwriting expert to verify the authenticity of the will. Additionally, holographic wills do not require witnesses, making them easier to contest. Anyone who is left out of the will may argue that the testator was not of sound mind or was influenced by others when writing it.

Without the guidance of an attorney, many people making holographic wills omit vital information, leaving their directives unclear or confusing. They may even leave multiple, conflicting versions of their wills, forcing the court to determine the actual wishes of the deceased. In the end, holographic wills often create stress and expense for a person's loved ones. The better option for many is to consult an estate planning attorney to discuss the benefits of a formal will.  

Source: texasbar.com, "How to write a valid holographic will", Derick Lancaster, Accessed on Nov. 10, 2016

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