The Law Office of Jo Ann Bui Leslie
Joan Leslie*

* Board Certified, Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Specializing in Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning, 
Guardianship, and Probate & Estate Administration

Office Visits By Appointment Only: Dallas, Texas 75206

 

DIY WILLS


"If it is so important to have a will, why don’t I just write my own will?" 

Handwritten Wills

A will which is solely written in the maker's handwriting is referred to as a holographic will. Holographic wills can be valid in Texas but they are a fruitful source of litigation because they are typically composed by someone who has not had the proper legal training. Even if no actual litigation or contest results concerning that handwritten will,  for other reasons, actually probating a holographic will can result in higher attorney's fees to probate such a will.  This is based on several factors including the simple fact that there are additional evidence requirements and hurdles necessary to have the Judge approve the will as valid.  


Internet Wills (e.g., Legal Zoom, etc.)  or General Fill-In the Blank Form Wills

When you die,  your will will most likely be "probated".  Probate is the legal process that occurs after your death, and it starts with the filing of your will with the Court.  

Probate of a will is controlled by state law, and your will will be probated in the state you are domiciled in at your death. Therefore, if you are a resident of Texas, the optimum thing to do is to have a will prepared for you by a competent Texas attorney.   

The problem with many on-line "legal" service companies. such as Legal Zoom, is that they market that they're offering "legal" documents.  This is very misleading for several reasons but primarily because they are not providing legal advice, and many of the general fill-in the blank forms that are provided via the internet and DIY kits are not state specific.   

Because I do believe that there are many great services offered over the internet and I support using such services if they are economical and effective,  I thought I would investigate further into this topic, especially since I have heard this question asked often or even suggested by financial correspondents and speakers in the media. These financial representatives are typically not trained in law and may not understand the truth about what happens with that stack of papers you stick away in your safe deposit box until it is too late.