Texas residents will do well to know some basic things about a last will and testament so that they can make a decision regarding whether to have one. Numerous complications can arise if a person dies without a will. In that respect, wills are generally considered to be a primary component of basic estate planning procedure.
The drastic results that can occur without a will have mostly to do with the application of the intestate laws that say what happens when there is no will. These laws may direct the assets away from persons who the decedent may have preferred to receive certain gifts. All of that discretion is lost by not having a will. There are also additional costs involved in processing an estate where a will is lacking.
Further, where there are minors who may qualify as beneficiaries, the lack of a will may make it necessary to appoint a guardian to control the distribution of the funds. In those circumstances, it may be necessary to get court approval to make certain larger distributions. These court appearances are expensive, and the costs will be taken out of the estate funds for payment. Wills are creatures of statutory and common law precedent, meaning that there are rules that dictate their legality.
For example, we all know that wills must be witnessed in Texas and all states by two or three individuals, depending on the particular state law. This characteristic makes it highly preferable to have an experienced attorney draw up the instrument for the testator. That will give assurances that the will is not going to be thrown out for some violation that was missed by a layman acting in good faith but without the knowledge of an experienced professional.
Source: The Huffington Post, "6 Things You May Not Know About Personal Wills", Larry Alton, April 26, 2016