Do You Need a Will in El Paso, Texas?

Estate planning may not be at the top of everyone’s to-do list, but it’s an important step in ensuring your wishes are carried out after you’re gone. Unfortunately, a shocking number of people in the United States pass away without a will, leaving their loved ones to navigate a complex legal process known as intestacy. Here in El Paso, Texas, having a will can make a world of difference for your family. Wills have many benefits, are an essential part of your estate plan, especially for El Paso residents.

Why You Need a Will in El Paso, Texas

A well-crafted will in El Paso, Texas, ensures your loved ones are taken care of exactly as you intend. 

  • Empowering Your Wishes: You decide who inherits your property, not the state. This ensures your loved ones receive the support you want them to have.
  • Peace Through Clarity: A clear will minimizes confusion and potential disputes, allowing your family to grieve and heal without legal battles.
  • Planning for Your Children’s Future: Designate guardians to care for your minor children, and trustees to manage real and personal property, providing peace of mind for you and a secure future for them.
  • Streamlining the Process: Choose a trusted executor to manage your El Paso estate efficiently, simplifying the probate process for your family.

The Benefits of Having a Will in El Paso

Having a will in El Paso, Texas, goes beyond simply checking a box. It offers a multitude of benefits that can significantly impact your loved ones and your legacy:

  • Reassurance: A well-crafted will provides immense reassurance. Knowing your wishes regarding your assets and loved ones will be respected offers a sense of control and security, even in the face of uncertainty.
  • Reduced Costs & Delays: Dying intestate can lead to a lengthy and expensive probate process. An El Paso will streamlines this process, potentially saving your Texas estate money and time by clearly outlining your wishes for asset distribution.
  • Flexibility: Your will is not a one-size-fits-all document. It can be tailored to your specific circumstances. Whether you wish to designate charitable contributions, leave specific instructions for valued possessions.

What Happens if You Die Without a Will in El Paso?

Under Texas law, a person who dies without a will is said to have died “intestate.” There are specific rules that determine how their estate will be divided, known as intestate succession. The process of settling an estate through intestacy can take many months and will involve a probate court.

Intestate succession is the legal process that determines how assets are distributed when someone dies without a will. Surviving spouses and children inherit first, with shares depending on family structure and property type (community or separate). Assets with named beneficiaries (life insurance, and bank accounts ) may bypass this process. Determining heirs can be complex for non-traditional families, so legal help is recommended.

Small estates under $75,000 are settled through court approval of a Small Estate affidavit, (frowned upon by El Paso Probate Courts) while larger estates may involve a complex Determination of Heirship process.

Considering the complexities, consulting an El Paso probate lawyer is recommended for navigating intestate succession in El Paso, Texas.

Do You Meet the Requirements for a Will in El Paso Texas?

Having a will ensures your wishes for your estate are followed. But before you work with an estate attorney to draft one, here’s a quick check to see if you meet the requirements in Texas:

  • Age: You must be at least 18 years old. 
  • Mental Capacity: You need to be of “sound mind” when creating the will. This means you understand the document you’re signing, the nature and extent of your property, and who your potential heirs are.

Formal Will Requirements:

  • The Will Must Be In Writing: Handwritten (holographic) or typed (attested) are both acceptable. A Holographic Will must be written entirely in the Testator’s handwriting. 
  • Signing: You (the testator) must sign the will yourself or have someone else sign it in your presence at your direction.
  • Witnesses: For attested wills (not fully handwritten), two credible witnesses over 14 years old must witness you signing and then sign themselves in your presence.
  • Self-Proving Affidavit (Optional): This can be added to expedite the probate process by eliminating the need for witness testimony (requires a notary).

If your will doesn’t meet these requirements, it may be invalid. In that scenario, your El Paso estate will be distributed according to Texas intestacy laws. 

Safeguard Your Assets & Wishes: El Paso Estate Planning Made Easy

It can be daunting to think of planning your El Paso estate, but as the old saying goes, “failure to plan is planning to fail.” A good estate plan, including a last will and testament, is invaluable for everyone to have in place to protect their assets.
At Forbes & Forbes Law, we help people with all aspects of estate planning, from drafting wills to forming trusts within the will.. With considerable experience, we have the in-depth knowledge of Texas law necessary to ensure that your wishes are followed. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with an El Paso estate planning lawyer, call us at 915-533-5441 or fill out our online contact form.

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