1. What is a will?
A will is a document designed to pass your property/possessions to who you want to receive them upon your death. A Will allows a person to spell out any specific instructions they may have;  i.e., funeral/burial or who will take care of small children. A Will also allows a person to designate who they want to handle their affairs after their death. This person is then called the Executor (if male) or Executrix (if female).

2. I don’t have many assets and don’t think I need a will.  Do I need one?
Having a Will makes it much easier for your family to clear up all the issues that normally appear when a person dies. Things like paying your final bills and transferring title to cars and other property may require a much more complicated and costly court procedure without a Will. You also never know how much or what type of things you may have at the time of your death.

3. Can I write my own will?
A Will written solely in your own hand writing is known as a Holographic Will and is a valid form of a Will in Texas. I advise against using this type of Will because unless you are well versed in the law, a Holographic Will can easily cause more problems for your family upon your death. If you elect to type your own Will, the requirements for a typed Will (called an Attested Will) are much more complicated and major mistakes are even more likely to occur.

4. What about the “Will kits” I see advertising for companies that give you everything to do your own Will?
Some of these “Will kits” are very good and others are very bad. I recommend against them for a number of reasons. The first is separating the good from the bad, but the major flaw is that they are a one size fits all plan. They may offer a few different plans but they are not custom fit to your exact situation and no two people need the same Will. The other issue is that these companies cannot answer legal questions or give legal advice. I saw one of these not long ago that was very well written but had one error. He had two of his three children sign as witnesses. He was not told that if the third child had called the other two as witnesses in court, they could not receive any inheritance under the Will. He was not told about this because they could not offer legal advice. The key advice he needed was that someone receiving gifts in a Will cannot be a witness to the Will or they must surrender the right to receive the gifts under the Will. We managed to prevent that outcome; however, and they all received the proper shares of the estate.

5. I am married.  Do we each need our own Will?
Yes. Wills are designed and written for one individual only. Each spouse needs to have their own Will even if the Wills are the same or similar. I usually do the wills for a couple with a discount because I collect the same information to do both Wills as I would for an individual and it does not require a large amount of additional work. This may change if either of the spouses have children from a previous relationship. This situation requires more advanced planning in most cases to achieve the spouse’s goals.

6.  Are there any restrictions or requirements to creating a Will?
Yes. You are required to be 18 years old or older unless you are married or a serving member of the military. You must also have testamentary capacity. Testamentary capacity requires you to have the following:
  1. Know who your relatives are,
  2. Know the general nature and extent of your property,
  3. Understand that you are signing a Will and what a Will does, and
  4. Be able to form a plan of how you want your property disposed of