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Self-Proving Wills in Texas

Wills & Estate Planning

This article explains the concept of self-proving wills.

Here, find a link to the original article onSelf-Proving Wills and brief discussions about what self-proving wills are, with some links to relevant Texas law.

Special thanks to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. Much of this material is excerpted from an article by Judon Fambrough of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

Types of Wills

To learn more about wills, read Why You Need a Will. Historically, Texas recognized three types of wills.

  • Holographic will: A will written entirely in the deceased’s handwriting.

  • Attested will: A will not entirely in the deceased’s handwriting (typically a typewritten will)

  • Oral will (sometimes called a nuncupative will or deathbed wish. Because of their limited application, oral wills made (signed) after September 1, 2007, are no longer valid in Texas.

From Self-Proving Wills by Judon Fambrough of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

What is a self-proving will?

A self-proving will is a will that does not need additional proof or testimony from witnesses to be considered valid. 

This type of will can be admitted into probate without needing sworn statements or affidavits from witnesses. In Texas, self-proving wills can be either holographic (handwritten) or attested (signed by witnesses). Self-proving wills are easier, quicker, and cheaper to prove than other wills, but they can still be challenged, canceled, or changed.

See Texas Estates Code 251.101.

What is a will?

A will is a legal document that sets out how a person's property will be distributed after death.

Self-Proving Holographic Wills

Holographic wills need no witnesses to be valid. The law simply requires that the document be entirely in the deceased’s handwriting and signed. No date is required, but one should be included. A holographic will may be made self-proving either when it is signed or any time thereafter before the maker (testator) dies.

See Texas Estates Code 251.107. Texas law allows a will that is written entirely in the testator's own handwriting to be considered "self-proved" if the person who made the will attaches an affidavit to the will that states:

  1. The document is their will
  2. The testator was at least 18 years old when the will was made (or, if they were younger than 18, they were married or serving in the military at the time the will was made)
  3. The testator was of sound mind (i.e., they were mentally competent) when the will was made
  4. The testator has not revoked (canceled) the will.

To learn more about holographic wills, read Handwritten Wills Checklist and watch Legal Aid of Northwest Texas' handwritten wills video. For more about what makes a holographic will valid, see Self-Proving Wills by Judon Fambrough of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

Self-Proving Attested Wills

A validly attested will requires the maker’s signature and the signature of two or more credible witnesses.

A credible witness is a competent person older than 19 who is not a beneficiary of the will. The maker need not sign the will in the presence of the witnesses, but he or she must sign before the witnesses sign. The witnesses must sign the will in the maker's presence but not in each other's presence. 

From Self-Proving Wills by Judon Fambrough of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

Are other states' self-proving wills recognized in Texas?

A will made in a different state or country is considered self-proving if it follows the rules in the Texas Estates Code or if it is made according to the laws of the state or country where the person who made the will lived at the time it was made.

What do you need to attach to a will to make it self-proving?

Texas Estates Code 251.104 includes the wording you need for the affidavit you attach to a self-proving will.

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