How To Make a Living Will in Texas in 3 Steps?

Updated November 29, 2023
8 min read
How To Make a Living Will in Texas in 3 Steps?


Before we dive into the how-tos of drafting a last will in Texas, let's ensure that we have a clear understanding of what we're dealing with. At its core, a will is a legal document that declares your wishes about how your wealth, property, and other assets should be distributed after you die. The document also allows you to appoint a guardian for your dependents who are under 18.

When it comes to your assets, you're free to divide them among as many beneficiaries as you wish. You, as the person writing the will, are referred to as the ”testator,” while those who stand to inherit your assets are called “beneficiaries.”

What happens if you pass away without a will? In Texas, state intestacy law automatically kicks in, and you lose any say over who inherits your estate. Your assets, under Texas law, are typically divided among immediate family members. Even your family home doesn't escape this rule and is usually split between your spouse and children or other closely related family members. 

A common misconception is that a last will in Texas is only essential for individuals with substantial wealth, property, or complex estates. However, the truth is, everyone stands to benefit from having a will. A valid will is particularly important for those with dependents, blended families, estranged family members, or intricate family dynamics. Creating a last will in Texas ensures that your wishes, rather than state law, dictate the distribution of your assets.

Requirements for a Valid Will in Texas

Before a last will can be deemed legally valid in Texas, it needs to meet several requirements:

  1. First, the last will in Texas has to be written. That could mean it's handwritten by you (otherwise known as a holographic will) or typed out and printed. It’s important to note that this does not include merely voicing your wishes to someone. That won't fly legally. And neither will digital files saved on your computer. Whether you're scribbling it down or typing it up, make sure your last will in Texas exists in a tangible, physical form.

  2. Next, the testator (that's you) needs to be of sound mind. According to Texas Estates Code Sec. 251.051, only a "person of sound mind" is empowered to make a last will in Texas. This means you understand what a will is, you're aware of the implications of your decisions, and you're capable of making rational judgments. This law applies to anyone who's either 18 years or older, married (now or previously), or is a current or former member of the military.

  3. Then comes the issue of volition. You need to create your last will in Texas freely and of your own accord. No one else should sway your decisions on how your assets should be divided. This is a vital requirement, particularly given that friends or family members who stand to inherit might be inclined to influence your choices.

  4. Last but not least, your last will in Texas should bear the signatures of at least two credible witnesses. In Texas, a credible witness is anyone 14 years or older who can sign the document in their own handwriting and isn't named as a beneficiary in your will. Note that holographic wills entirely handwritten and signed by you are an exception to this rule. However, it never hurts to have those witness signatures for an added layer of protection.

By keeping these requirements in mind, you can ensure your last will in Texas is a legally enforceable declaration of your posthumous wishes.

How To Write a Will in Texas

Knowing how to write a living will in Texas is a skill beneficial to all Texas residents. Thankfully, the process is relatively straightforward. Follow the steps below, and you’ll have your legally binding will written and executed in no time!

Drafting your will

Creating your last will in Texas can take many forms. First, you can try creating the will yourself — the whole process may take time and effort. You may also find it beneficial to use the online template of a living will, which is appropriate in Texas. Using a template can save you money and time. Another option is to seek out an attorney, who will craft the whole document for you. This option will require minimal work on your part,  but it comes with a price tag. All three approaches are great, and your choice should depend on your circumstances, available time, and budget constraints.

If you know that your living will is straightforward and has no complexities, go the DIY route — this will save you money and time. If you choose to take this path to draft your last will in Texas, you may find the following information helpful.

Your beneficiaries and division of assets

When it comes to drafting your last will in Texas, the spotlight is on your beneficiaries — those who'll inherit your assets. Who they are is entirely up to you. 

Friends, family members, organizations, even non-profit charities — anyone can be named as a beneficiary. Your task is to decide how your assets, both current and fixed, should be distributed among them. 

To get you started, here are some common types of assets you might want to consider:

  • Real estate properties

  • Cash reserves and investment portfolios

  • Business stakes and acquisitions

  • Life insurance policies

  • Other physical possessions such as vehicles, jewelry, art pieces, etc.

Remember, the goal is to ensure that your assets end up in the hands that you choose, and your last will in Texas will make that happen.

Guardians of children and pets

If you have children or pets, you must also choose their legal guardians after death. This is only applicable if your children are dependents under the age of 18.

Executor of your will

Forming a last will in Texas necessitates appointing an executor. This person takes on the crucial task of working with the court to fulfill the terms of your will. Given the vital role the executor plays in estate planning, you should designate someone trustworthy. In cases where no executor has been appointed, the court will assign one after you pass away.

After finalizing these decisions, you can write the will yourself or relay this information to your lawyer, who can then craft the will for you. Make sure all the details are accurate before proceeding to the subsequent steps of crafting a last will in Texas.

Executing your will

Now, let's talk about putting your last will in Texas into action — a process known as executing the will. This just means adding the final touches to make your will legally valid. 

To do this in Texas, you'll need to sign your will in the presence of two credible witnesses. You can skip the notary unless you're aiming to make your will “self-proving” (we'll dive into what that means a bit later).

Here's your checklist for executing a last will in Texas:

  1. First, pick your witnesses and arrange a meeting. Present your will to them (they don't need to pore over the details).

  2. Next, have everyone initial each page of the document. On the last page, write out your name and sign and date below it.

  3. Lastly, have your witnesses print their names and sign and date the final page.

Remember, the term “executor” and “executing” a will can be easily mixed up due to their linguistic similarity. However, these two roles are distinct. 

Your executor, who steps in after your passing, doesn't have to sign your will for it to be valid. Their role in your last will in Texas comes into play much later.

Revoking or changing your will

Your last will in Texas, while legally binding, isn't set in stone. Unless you've signed a specific agreement declaring your will unchangeable — like in the case of joint wills — you have the right to cancel or alter the document before your death. Let's go over the two main ways you can revoke your will.

  • Physically destroy the will: Since a will needs to be a physical document, whether handwritten or printed, you can simply destroy the original. You're free to choose your method of destruction, be it burning, shredding, or tossing it in the trash.

  • Draft a new will: If you've written more than one will over time, the most recent version will be valid. Thus, you can revoke an older will by creating and executing a new one. The same steps for creating an original last will in Texas would apply here too.

For minor adjustments, you might consider writing a codicil, a supplementary document that makes modifications to your existing will. 

The same legal conditions to create a valid will also apply to codicils; you need to be in a sound mental state, the document must be physical, it requires two witness signatures, and you can't be under duress or coerced to make the changes.

However, your attorney may caution against using a codicil and suggest redoing the entire will instead. Multiple documents can create confusion and potential errors when it comes to executing your final wishes, especially when there have been numerous revisions. Keeping everything in one updated last will in Texas is often a safer choice.

Do You Need To Notarize Your Will in Texas?

Notarization isn't a requirement for a last will in Texas to be legally binding. Simply having your signature along with those of your chosen credible witnesses is sufficient to uphold your will in court. When your estate goes through probate, the court will reach out to your witnesses to authenticate the document.

If you wish to create a "self-proving" will, a notary is required. A self-proving will, equipped with a self-proving affidavit signed by you, your witnesses, and a notary, simplifies the probate process.

In this scenario, the court won't need to contact your witnesses, as the notary has already verified your identity and the identities of your witnesses. This speeds up the probate process, allowing your assets to be distributed faster, which can be another advantage of drafting a last will in Texas.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to write a living will in Texas is a beneficial skill for everyone. Although many assume wills are only crucial for people with large and complex estates, everyone should have control over their assets and who receives them after death.

As you have learned, the process of will writing doesn’t have to be complicated. Gather your assets, choose your beneficiaries, and write your will. You can do this by yourself or with the help of a legal professional. Be sure to execute your will to make it legally binding, and refer to this guide if and when you need to revoke or change your will in Texas.

Article by
Inna Chumachenko

Inna Chumachenko is the Content Lead at Lawrina. She is responsible for managing all the content found on the blog, guides, and other website pages. Inna has a degree in philology and a vast interest in law. In her role at Lawrina, Inna oversees the content team, establishes collaborations with writers, and curates content from various contributors.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the content for Lawrina, please feel free to contact Inna directly via email at or connect with her on LinkedIn.