Texas law sometimes recognizes handwritten, or "holographic," wills. Here, Houston Volunteer Lawyers explains the steps you need to take and the information you would need to include in order for a handwritten will to be valid.
What is a holographic will?
A holographic will is simply a will that is entirely in your own handwriting. If done correctly, it is valid and can be legally enforced. In order to make a valid handwritten will in Texas, the entire document must be in your own handwriting.
No one can write any part of it except for you, and no part of it can be typed. You can write in cursive or print, but the entire will must be in your handwriting only.
You must write legibly so other people can easily read and understand what you wrote.
How do you make a valid holographic will in Texas?
To make a valid holographic will in Texas, Houston Volunteer Lawyers recommends the following:
- Write that it is your will.
- Write who you want to receive your belongings.
- Write who you want to serve as the “independent executor.”
- Note: The “independent executor” is someone you trust to show your will to a court, pay your debts, and give out your belongings.
- They can be the same person who receives your belongings.
- Write that you want your “independent executor” to “serve without bond.”
- Note: To “serve without bond” means that your “independent executor” will not have to give money to the court for a bond. Courts usually require a bond to make sure money is not stolen or misused. But if you trust this person, using this language makes it easier for them to give out your belongings.
- Put the date that you write the will.
- Sign the will.
Do I have to sign the handwritten will in front of a notary?
Your handwritten “holographic” will does not need to be signed in front of witnesses or a notary.
Houston Volunteer Lawyers recommends you write in blue ink so that if a copy is made, it will be easier to tell which is the original. Place your will in a safe place and tell your independent executor where this is.
Where can I find a sample handwritten will?
Is a handwritten will my only option?
Please note there are two ways to have a valid will in Texas. One way is with a holographic will, as discussed above. The other way is with a formal will, which must be witnessed.
This information is not legal advice, and it does not take into account the wide variety of life circumstances that you may have.
Houston Volunteer Lawyers strongly encourages you to meet with an attorney to discuss your estate planning needs when the local stay-at-home order is lifted, and it is safe for you to do so.
Visit www.MakeJusticeHappen.org for the most up-to-date version of this document.
Houston Volunteer Lawyers recommends you make a formal will with a lawyer when you are able to do so. Use TexasLawHelp.org's directory to help you find a lawyer.
This do-it-yourself guide by the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program was created in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting limits on people's ability to meet with attorneys and others.
This video was created by Legal Aid of Northwest Texas.
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