What Are the Elements of a Valid Will?

Texas residents want the best for their children and family members. This is why many of them engage in estate planning. After all, it helps them ensure their wishes are being fulfilled while taking care of their heirs. One of the most common steps, and the one many people take first, is creating a will. However, it is not as easy as just sitting down and deciding how assets, income, and property will be divided, as every state has specific last will and testament laws and if they are not met, it could result in an invalid will.

Most states require the person making the will be either of the age of 18 or an emancipated minor. The person must also have testamentary capacity, which means he or she must have a sound mind. The person must understand that they are making a will and what the effect of such a will is, meaning that they understand their relationship to the beneficiaries and the effect of giving them the property allocated to them. However, it is worth noting that just because someone had a mental illness previously does not necessarily mean they are not of sound mind right now.

The individual who creates a will must sign it voluntarily. This is perhaps the most important way to ensure a validity, as without a signature the document will probably be declared invalid. Appearing at the end of the document, the signature must either be in the testator's own handwriting or by someone authorized by him or her to sign. Disinterested witnesses must witness this signature. These witnesses are individuals who are not beneficiaries in the will. Where an interested witness is used as a witness, there must be someone else present as well.

Making a valid will is an important way people can give back to their loved ones and ensure their futures are taken care of. When the validity of a will is drawn into question, though, it is possible that legal disputes may arise during probate, which can tear a family apart.