Law Offices of Rhonda S. Ross

121 East 12th, Suite 6,
Houston, TX 77008

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(281) 845-9330

Law Offices of Rhonda S. Ross

What Exactly Is A Will?


A will is a written document that evidences what the person writing the will or having the will wants to be done with his or her estate. In Texas, a will has to be witnessed by two witnesses over 14 years of age who are not connected to the estate, and the signatures must be notarized. A person cannot witness their mother’s will, sister’s will or brother’s will. If a person has any interest in the estate, then he or she cannot witness the will. In Texas, a person will need a will if they have real estate, and probate will automatically transfer the associated titles.

Who Needs A Will?

Anybody who has real estate prospects needs a will because that is how titles are changed. If an estate is not probated, then there will be a cloud on the title. In other words, the title would not be clear due to the fact that there might be brothers or sisters who are unknown or who have not signed the proper papers. As a result, the property would just sit there and accrue taxes before the county would step in and foreclose on the property for unpaid taxes. If a title cannot be cleared, then it cannot be sold without going backward in the property records to find the last clear title. This can be a great deal of work and cost a lot of money.

What Is The Difference Between A Will And Other Estate Planning Tools?

The will is written, whereas other estate planning tools may not be written. The probate of a written document is much easier and less expensive than probating a non-written or an oral will. In Texas, a person cannot probate an oral will. An heirship determination is a legal document that lists the legal heirs. A small estate affidavit is an estate that is valued under a certain amount of money and requires less control of the court.

What Happens If I Die Without A Will?

If a person has real property and dies without a will, then their estate will be called intestate. This is much more complicated and costs about twice as much as having a will. The higher costs occur because an attorney (ad litem attorney) will have to search for any unknown heirs. Further, witnesses must appear in court to swear before the judge that they knew the deceased and confirm certain details about them (such as when they married, how many children they had, the birth dates of their children, etc.). If a person does not die with a will it can be prohibitively expensive to probate.

What Can Or Should Be Addressed In A Will?

The term “testator” is used for the person who wrote the will or who authorized the writing of the will. If a will just states that the spouse should have all of the estate and if that spouse is no longer living, then the estate will have to be left to someone else, such as the children. If the spouse and children died before the testator, then a different person should be chosen to receive the estate. Small changes to a will can be done with a codicil. The codicil must also be in writing and witnessed by 2 people over 14 years old.

For more information on Wills In The State Of Texas, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (281) 845-9330 today.

Rhonda S. Ross, Esq.

Call Now For A Consultation
(281) 845-9330