Signing a Will in Texas with Coronavirus Concerns (Social Distancing)
Texas Will-signings during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) prove challenging because the Texas Estates Code requires that a typed Last Will and Testament be signed by two witnesses (and you’ll usually want a notary, too). So, what are the options for the signing of a Will in Texas with the need for “social distancing”?
Here are the Top 3 Methods for Signing a Will in Texas during Coronavirus distancing:
Method #1. Sign a Handwritten Will (“Holographic Will”)
The Texas Estates Code provides that a handwritten will is valid without witnesses or a notary. Just be sure that the will is 100% in your own handwriting and signed by you. In a pinch, if you don’t have a last will and testament, you can handwrite your will. It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than dying without a will. If you die without a Will, your property would be divided in accordance with the Texas laws of intestate succession… In other words, if you don’t have a Will, the State of Texas has one for you.
Method #2. Use a Trust Instead of a Will
The Texas Estates Code actually does not require a trust agreement to be witnessed (or even notarized). If you can hire an estate planning lawyer to remotely create a trust agreement for you, you can legally create that trust without anyone else present.
The problem with this is that your property has to GET IN to the trust in order for your trust to transfer the property to your loved ones after death. Estate planners call this “funding the trust.” Funding the trust may require a notary and/or witnesses. For example, if you have a retirement account that you want to flow through your trust, that beneficiary designation form may require witness and/or notary. Another example is transferring your house into the trust–that’s typically done with a deed, which should be notarized.
Method #3. Use an Online Notary or other Creative Solution
There is such a thing as online notary. They can sign in your “presence,” if they follow the rules of the State of Texas.
Another creative solution our estate planning law has used: Stay physically far away from the witnesses and notary. The Texas Estates Code requires that the witnesses and notary be in the presence of the Will-Signer (“testator”). However, that presence requirement doesn’t mean you need to be seated together, shake hands and share a pen!
For example, for multiple estate planning clients last week, we went out into the parking lot of our law office to do the signings. That’s right, we took two witnesses and a notary out to the parking lot to be in the “presence” of the will-signer. We didn’t have to get close to one another physically, and I actually enjoyed going outside and getting some sunshine.
Maybe we’ll do will-signings in the law office parking lot after Coronavirus! We can be like a drive-thru for Wills!
To ask a legal question or get legal help from and Texas Wills and Probate lawyer Isaac Shutt, use the online contact form to the right or call (214) 302-8197. If you prefer to meet at the probate law office in person, the attorneys will gladly offer a free consultation.
Visit www.ShuttLawFirm.com for more information on Estate Planning in the Dallas area, Wills vs. Trusts, How to Sign a Will in Texas During the Coronavirus, or send any other questions for estate planner Isaac Shutt to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shutt Law Firm’s estate planning law office is in Richardson, Texas, conveniently located just north of Dallas, and just south of Plano, TX. The law office is near the intersection of highway 75 and Campbell Road in Richardson, Texas.
You can also call Mr. Shutt at (214) 302-8197 for more information on the topic discussed in this article or to discuss a different legal matter.
Please consider the Shutt Law Firm for probate in Texas, Texas Last Will and Testaments, estate disputes, Trust disputes, or you need Richardson probate lawyers serving Dallas, Plano, Allen, McKinney, Garland, Addison, Denton, TX, Collin County, Tarrant County, Rockwall County, or surrounding North Texas area.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this brief article constitutes legal advice. The information provided herein is merely provided in the spirit of education and is believed to be accurate as of the time it was originally prepared, and laws change. If you have a legal question, you should consult a lawyer for your specific legal situation. Further, nothing in this article shall be construed to have started an attorney-client relationship. No such relationship exists until both you and and an attorney at Shutt Law Firm sign an engagement letter.