Decatur Family Law and Probate Attorney

How are attested or holographic wills probated in Texas?

On Behalf of | Sep 2, 2022 | probate administration

In Fort Worth and the surrounding areas of Texas, conscientious people of all ages will take the necessary step in creating an estate plan. For many, that consists of a will. After they have died, the will needs to go through probate so the testator’s property will be distributed as they dictated it should be in the document. For that, there will be an executor who is responsible for overseeing the process.

Sometimes this process of probate and estate administration can run into difficult issues. If, for example, the testator had an attested will or a holographic will that were not self-proved, it is necessary to prove that it was executed before it can go through probate. It is important to know the law for these issues and to have legal guidance to ensure it goes smoothly and issues that might arise are effectively addressed.

What does the law say about proof of execution of attested and holographic wills?

Self-proving attested wills are valid when it has the testator’s signature and the signature of at least two credible witnesses. These witnesses must be at least 19-years-old and not be beneficiaries in the will. For an attested will that has not been self-proved, it can still be admitted to probate if certain factors are in place.

A subscribing witness can provide an affidavit or testimony that it is valid. The witnesses to the creation of the will who are not residents of the relevant county or who cannot attend the court proceeding can prove its validity by giving sworn testimony in an oral or written deposition. In cases where there is no opposition to the will, then it can be proven by testimony or affidavit of two witnesses in open court or via deposition that the signature of an attesting witness or the testator is valid.

A holographic will is written entirely in the testator’s handwriting. To be deemed valid, no witnesses are necessary. If the document is in the testator’s handwriting, it is sufficient. It does not even need to be dated. It will be self-proved when it is signed or at any time prior to the testator’s death. The creator of the document must have been at least 18 at its execution or for those younger, be a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. They must be of sound mind and did not revoke the will. If it is not self-proved, then the same rules as for an attested will apply.

Having professional help with all probate issues can be essential

Proof is necessary for a will to go through probate. Since it is the immediate aftermath of the loss of a loved one, it is not uncommon for people to feel overwhelmed as they go through this process. Being named the executor is a significant responsibility and if there are obstacles that need to be addressed such as the attested or holographic will not being self-proved, it is wise to have professional assistance to explain the process and ensure it can go through probate. With these complex probate and estate administration concerns, it is useful to have advice from the start.