What are the Requirements of a Valid Will in Texas?

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that allows you to identify your beneficiaries, nominate a legal guardian for any minor children, dictate how your property will be distributed after you die. It also allows you to nominate an executor, who will manage your estate, pay your debts, expenses and taxes, and distribute your estate according to your wishes.

Every state has statutory requirements dictating what makes a Will valid. Texas is no different.

For a Will to be valid in Texas, the person making the Will (the testator) must have legal capacity, testamentary capacity, and testamentary intent. Additionally, the testator must follow specific formalities.

Legal Capacity

One of the requirements of a valid Will in Texas is that the testator have legal capacity. You have legal capacity to make a Will in Texas if you:

  • are 18 years of age or older,
  • have been lawfully married, or
  • are a member of the armed forces of the United States.

Testamentary Capacity

You have testamentary capacity if you are of “sound mind.” 

Texas courts have ruled that you have testamentary capacity to make a valid Will in Texas if you have the mental ability to understand:

  • the fact that you are making a Will;
  • the effect of making a Will;
  • the nature and extent of your property;
  • the persons who are the natural objects of your bounty (e.g. your relatives);
  • the fact that you are disposing your assets;
  • how all these elements relate so as to form an orderly plan for the disposition of your property

Testamentary Intent

You have testamentary intent if at the time you sign your Will, you intend to make a writing that dictates how your property will be distributed after you die.


In addition to having legal capacity, testamentary capacity, and testamentary intent, you need to follow specific legal formalities for a Will to be valid. The formalities that need to be followed depend on what type of Will you have made.

Texas recognizes two types of written Wills.

  1. A holographic Will is a handwritten Will. To be valid, you must write the Will completely in your own handwriting and sign it. There is no requirement that witnesses or a notary sign the document.
  2. An attested Will is a Will that is not completely in the handwriting of the testator. This is commonly a typewritten Will, like one an attorney would prepare for you. To be valid, you must sign the Will, or direct another person to sign it in your presence, and at least two credible witnesses over the age of 14 must sign it in your presence.

The Texas statutes give the testator the option of adding a self-proving affidavit to the Will. The testator, witnesses, and a notary all have to sign a self-proving affidavit.

The benefit of a self-proving affidavit is that it substitutes for in-court testimony of witnesses during probate, which saves considerable time and expense.

If a Will does not meet all the legal requirements, a court will declare it invalid. As a result, your estate would be being distributed according to a statutory formula (the Texas intestacy statutes) rather than the way you would have preferred.

An attorney can help you navigate these legal requirements to ensure that your Will will carry out your wishes after you die.

This post was originally published on January 13, 2010 and updated on April 3, 2020.


  1. Can a typed up will also be written on? Also can the beneficiary be one of the witness signatures In Texas .

  2. Hello I am a resident of Jefferson county Texas. I have completed my will ( it’s Texas specific) but I am currently not in Texas. Can I get my will notarized and witnesses in the state that I am or do I have to go back to Texas and use a Texas notary in order to make the will valid?

  3. Eddy Crumley says

    We’re two men who bought a house together several years ago. We are now getting married. Since the house was not acquired during the marriage, it doesn’t seem to meet the definition of communmity property. So, what is needed to make sure each spouse has SOLE right of survivorship … just a will, or joint owner right of survivorship agreement, or both?

  4. Can the Sole Heir and the Executor of a will be the same person?

  5. I have three children. I haven’t heard from my oldest in years and he will not let me see my four grandsons with him. He was on drugs and stole from me (we’re talking about credit cards thousands and thousands of dollars) just to pay is drug dealer. So as far as I’m concerned he has received all of his inheritance when I was alive. Is there a problem giving something to the other two children and not him in the will. I live in Texas

    • It is possible to disinherit a child in Texas. I recommend working with a lawyer to have a Will prepared and executed in accordance with all statutory requirements to minimize the risk that it will be successfully contested.

  6. My will states that if my spouse dies before me it will be like there is was no will (or words to that effect )
    Does this mean the beneficiaries I have named , including step children wont be valid ?

  7. Will a Will made in Texas will be accepted in other country? Or should another will be made in that particular country for estate at that country?

    • Thanks for your question. Because all countries’ laws are different, it is always best to consult with a lawyer in the country where you have property for advice on whether your current Will is sufficient or whether additional documentation is necessary.

  8. Hello. How Do You obtain an existing Will that has been filed in any county in Texas. Do children have any legal rights to a parent that has not mentioned them in a Will in Texas?

  9. My mother made her will at an attorneys office in Dallas about 13 years ago. She was of sound mind and documents were signed according to the Texas laws. I was listed as the executor of that will. Recently, my sister, now her financial guardian and durable power of attorney, has threatened to go to a lawyer and change our mother’s will. Is that something she can do?

    • An agent under a power of attorney or even a guardian cannot sign a Will on behalf of another. I recommend you consult with an attorney in your community to advise you on the best course of action in light of your sister’s threats.

  10. I have a handwritten will that is not written in the testators handwriting, just his signature. There are two witnesses and a notary signing the handwritten will. I need to know if this can be considered a valid holographic will or will period.

    • A will that is not wholly in the handwriting of the testator must be signed by the testator, or another person at his direction and in his presence, and attested in his presence by at least two credible witnesses over the age of 14. Ultimately, it is a probate court that will make the determination as to whether the Will is valid and can be admitted to probate.

  11. What is required to update a will? My father has one but wants to make amendments. The original is stamped by a notary but she said if my dad opts to change it all beneficiaries need to be present. That doesn’t seem correct as people update and make wills every day without those people present.

  12. Veronica Castille says

    My uncle told my dad he put me in his will. My uncle passed before my aunt who has now also passed. Her sister took care of everything and I have had no correspondence or contact from her. How do I find out if my uncle did in fact, include me in his will?

  13. Jack Nichols says

    Can my attorney be executor of my will?

  14. My mom had a will made in 2005. She remarried in 2009. Is the will invalid now?

  15. Ivia Velazquez says

    Question: I bought a home before I got remarried. The home title/deed and mortgage is soley in my name. Texas law says all before marriage is not community property, when divorcing. But if f I should die, will my new husband by law inherit the home or if I Will it to my daughter, who it was intended for, will she be able to keep it?

      • Khalid Mansur says

        My dad wrote a will in June 2012 and signed it on December 2013. It was witnessed by a local chief. No one else witnessed the will. My concerns the day he signed the Will he was very sick and was admitted and taken for surgery. In the will he only mentioned the beneficiaries from his last wife leaving other three kids from the first wife, does this will stand?

      • For a typewritten will to be valid in Texas, it must be signed by the testator or another person at his direction and in his presence, and attested in his presence by at least two credible witnesses over the age of 14.

        A will written wholly in the handwriting of the testator must be signed by the testator, but no witnesses are required to sign.

  16. Can my husband and I have one Will instead of one each? My parents too need to write a Will and were wondering the same.

    Thank you.

  17. La-Tanya Parker says

    My step dad wrote out a will while he was in the hospital, he left an insurance policy, and stated how he wanted it divided. Now the policy has been issued and 6 of his biological children have received the benefits and refused to split it the correct way. What can my mom do?

  18. Do I have to renew my will even if its 15 years old? Is it still valid. I’m 56 yrs old and very healthy?

  19. Shannon Cooper says

    Question, my dad is 91 years old and is fully mentally in tack. The only “problem” I’m having is this having a will be in writing. He has dexterity issues with his hands and so I’m asking, is it required that a will only be written as opposed to typed out and then submitted for signatures, etc.

    • The “writing” in the attested Will is usually typed. Only holographic wills are required to be wholly in the handwriting of the testator.

      To be valid, an attested Will must be signed by the testator, or another person at the testator’s direction and in his presence, and signed by at least two credible witnesses in the testator’s presence.

  20. In Texas can I designate one person as my beneficiary with a reference to a letter in their possession signed by me that specifically designates money and/or property to be distributed as itemized?

    • If you wish for multiple people to benefit from your estate, you should specifically identify those beneficiaries and describe how assets will be allocated to each rather than naming one beneficiary in hopes that that person will honor your wishes.

  21. In Texas, do you have to have an original copy of a will in order to probate? My Grandmother passed Thanksgiving Day 2017. We are unable to locate the original will but there is a copy. She did leave some property and other items to us. We just can’t locate the original.

  22. Jesse Barrera says

    I hope you can give me some guidance. My Dad died in Oct of 2016. He did make a will with me as the heir to his home and also the executor of the will. I have not done anything with this will. It was written up in 2015. I’m lost in what to do with the will now that dads house is empty and this is really all my dad had in his estate. Should I contact a real estate lawyer? All I need to do is place the house in my name so I can get homeowners insurance on dads house. Will is signed and notarized with the Self Approving Affidavit attached. I just need guidance. Thank you so much. Jesse in San Antonio TX

    • Probate is the legal process of proving the validity of a will and serves as a link in the chain of title to show property of a deceased person has passed to its intended beneficiary.

  23. Jo Rdrgz says

    Hi. Does a Self-Proving Affidavit have to accompany a holographic; does it too need to be handwritten?

  24. If a Will was signed by an individual and witnessed by two individuals but not notarized in 2010 is it a valid Will?

  25. My partner and I have lived together for 4 years and share everything together. We live in Dallas, Texas. He typed up a will and had it notarized. Will this be enough to stand up in the courts?

  26. My fiance and I are doing our wills separately. In regards to the two witnesses required, can the same two witnesses be the same for both her will and for my will?

  27. Rod Manning says

    In the state of Texas, if a will is signed in the presence of a notary public & signed as notarized, is it still necessary that the will be signed by two witnesses?

  28. Hi, I am not sure if you still monitor this thread but am curious about the self proving affidavit part. Specifically, if it were to occur that one of the witnesses were to be called by the other side and testify that they did not know they were witnessing a Will but thought it was bank papers or that they thought bank papers was said would the other witness’s along with the notary be enough to prevent the Will’s denial? Thank you

  29. Danielle Dill says

    My mother is physically unable to sign her will. We have a disinterested party willing to sign on her behalf. Is there a specific way the signature needs to be worded when signing on behalf is someone else? We live in Texas.

  30. Kresa Castillo says

    A cousin of mine was a beneficiary on my uncle’s will. She was present at the signing of the will, but 2 of her relatives were the signing Witnesses on the will. Can a beneficiary be present at the signing of a will?

  31. Rosa Villarreal says

    If I am a custodial parent, can I write in my will to have my child cared for by my sister, instead of the non custodial parent?

  32. Can a Living Will be written the same way as a last will and testament? In the will can the person state who they want to be the executor of their estate?

    • A living will is also known as a directive to physicians. It allows you to specify whether life-sustaining treatment should be administered or withheld if you are diagnosed with an irreversible or terminal condition.

      A last will and testament allows you to specify who will get your property after you die and who will serve as executor.

  33. In the state of Texas can the two people that is inherit estate be both witness on the will?

  34. My husband passed with a will that leaves everything to me, his spouse. The Texas will had a self-proving affidavit. Bank accounts were co- owned and his name has been removed. Car titles have been changed by presenting a death certificate and a copy of the will. The only asset remaining is a house that we both co-owned. Can I avoid probate?

  35. We live in Washington state and had our will drawn up here by an attorney. We are moving to Texas and wonder if our will is good in Texas?

  36. Hello, my employer just recently passed away and left behind a holographic will that has been turned in for probate. There are many things not listed in the holographic will that he wanted other people to have. If he told several people verbally that certain things would belong to them after his death and it was told to these people in front of many witnesses and the witnesses are willing to testify in court under oath, would that be legal in the state of Texas?

  37. Jennifer says

    Does a simple will still have to go through probate court?

  38. Bob Carroll says

    Does my lawyer who made my will have to sign the will?

  39. Hello! Just a quick question for direction. If my husband and I own our own business, would you suggest it is better to hire a lawyer to help us with our will? And what type of lawyer? Many thanks!

  40. My mother has a will & states everything goes to me & she leaves nothing to two other children. Can this be done or does she need to state she leaves them $1.00


    • There is no requirement that $1.00 be left to anyone. States have statutes that protect children who have been accidentally omitted from a Will. Please consult a lawyer to make sure the Will is drafted and executed properly so as to minimize the risk that a Will contest will be successful.

  41. Pablo Torres says

    I am married for a second time, but I don’t want my second wife to inherit my house, which is my only asset. I want my kids to be the sole owners of my house.

    If just make a holographic Will, would that be enough for them to inherit my house?

    • Property owned before marriage is characterized as separate property and you can dispose of it as you wish; however, certain constitutional protections are available for surviving spouses in Texas. A surviving spouse is entitled to a life estate in the homestead and cannot be forced to sell the property as long as he or she occupies and uses it.

  42. My mother had a stroke in December…she turned 94 this month and has improved greatly. She is alert and speaking. She has property and we have been told she needs to get a will. I have also been told I can download one from the Internet. We live in Texas, can you tell me what is the correct form to use and the process. Do we still need an attorney?
    Thank you!

  43. Must attested or holographic wills be recorded by the city or county clerks?

  44. I live in Texas. Can my mom be the beneficiary even if she is not a citizen?

  45. Debbie Baker says

    Hi. My dad passed away 3 years ago. The only Will my mom and dad had is very old and it basically left the belongings to the other when one passed and then split 50/50 between me and my brother when the other passed. If I passed, my 1/2 was to be split between my 2 kids and my brother was executor (they were under age at the time and now grown) There is just me and my brother and my mom does not have anything except a home and the contents. Should we get legal advice/help on a Will or is there a simple form she could fill out and sign with a notary? Thank you for your help

    • I always recommend getting legal advice!

      • Val Donovan says

        This answer is not much help. I have the same exact issue minus the children, but my brother executor says he can’t find the will. How can I get a copy of it and/or make sure no attempts to change it have been made? (Texas)

      • When an original Will cannot be found, it is presumed to have been revoked. The presumption is rebuttable.

        Texas has a procedure for admitting a lost Will to probate. To admit an alleged lost Will to probate, in interested person must:(1) Prove that the Will was valid (2) Establish why the Will cannot be produced, in a manner sufficient to overcome the presumption that the Testator revoked it(3) Substantially prove the contents of the Will, through the testimony of a credible witness who read the Will, heard the Will read, or can identify a copy of the Will.

        A qualified probate attorney can help you determine how best to proceed.

  46. My dad recently passed away and I was his caregiver and guardian. He redid his will after his previous caregiver coersed him into making a will including her but leaving out two of his children. His new will has been signed by him and notarized at his bank but does not have 2 witnesses. Is it invalid?

  47. My dad just passed away and he remarried. His wife has not communicated to us since his passing. My father told me in the hospital bed that I was in the will. I just want to find out if there is anything to split up or did she get him to sign over everything to him.

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