Do I Need a Will?

Bloodworth Law Firm, PLLC
Last will and testament near house model, gavel on black table

In its simplest form, a will is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of any minor children upon your passing. A will not only provides clarity and direction for your loved ones about the distribution of your estate; it ensures your wishes are respected and executed according to your specific instructions. 

Despite its usefulness, many seem to question whether they need a will. Some may think that their assets are not significant enough to warrant a will, while others may believe they are too young or healthy to create one. If you wish to have a say in how your estate is handled after your death, having a will is essential to provide security for the future of your estate and your family's well-being. 

If you're new to the idea of creating a will, the experienced attorneys at Bloodworth Law Firm, PLLC can help you draft a secure document and offer invaluable advice on complex issues such as tax implications and guardianship arrangements, making sure your will is both comprehensive and legally binding. 

What Is a Will? 

A will, also known as a "last will and testament," is a legally-binding document that articulates an individual's wishes regarding the distribution of their assets, the care of minor children, and any other arrangements to be enacted upon their death. This document specifies the beneficiaries (the individuals who are to receive portions of the estate) and appoints an executor, a trusted individual charged with overseeing the execution of the will and the settlement of the estate. Depending on the specific circumstances and the size of an estate, different types of wills can be created: 

  • Simple Will: A straightforward testament without complex trusts or stipulations that outlines the division of assets, the appointment of guardians for minors, and names an executor. 

  • Joint Will: While this is uncommon, a joint will is made by two people, typically spouses, and deals with concurrent wills in a single document.  

  • Living Will: Unlike a testamentary will, this deals with end-of-life healthcare decisions rather than property distribution.  

  • Holographic Will: A document wholly handwritten and signed by the testator without formal witness requirements.  

  • Oral Will: Also referred to as 'nuncupative will', these are verbal testaments made before witnesses, often employed in emergency scenarios.   

For a will to be valid, it must adhere to the legal requirements set forth by the state in which it is created. Additionally, you will need to be of sound mind at the time your will is drafted and signed and free from undue influence or coercion. 

What Should Your Will Contain? 

Since your will acts as a legal documentation of your wishes after your passing, it is important to outline comprehensive and effective directions for how you want your estate to be distributed. In every well-drafted will, there are certain key components that you should include: 

  • Identification of a Testator: Your will should start by identifying you as the testator and affirm your age and mental state to show that you are making the will voluntarily and are of sound mind. 

  • Appointment of an Executor: You should name both a primary and an alternate executor to ensure there is someone available to carry out the instructions in your will once you pass. 

  • List of Beneficiaries: Identify the beneficiaries of your estate. These can include family members, friends, charitable organizations, or others you wish to inherit from you. 

  • Detailed Asset Distribution: Provide specific instructions on how your assets should be distributed among your beneficiaries. This can help prevent potential disputes. Common assets can include land, houses, bank accounts, stocks, personal property (e.g., artwork, jewelry, vehicles), business interests, and intellectual property.  

  • Guardianship Provisions for Minor Children: If you have children under the age of 18, specifying guardianship arrangements is crucial. This ensures that your children are cared for by individuals you trust in the event of your and the other parent's demise. 

  • Funeral Instructions: Include directions for your family regarding your preferences related to how you want your funeral to be conducted. 

  • Signatures: For a will to be legally binding, it must be signed by you and, typically, by at least two witnesses who are not beneficiaries of the will. Some states also require the will to be notarized. 

To ensure your will is valid and encompasses all necessary provisions, it is advisable to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. They can help address any questions you may have regarding state-specific requirements and potentially complicated legal situations. 

Why Is Having a Will Important? 

Having a will in place is critically important for you to maintain control over the distribution of your assets, making sure your estate is allocated according to your wishes. If you pass away without a will, your assets may be distributed according to state intestacy laws, which may not align with your personal preferences. This can result in unnecessary complications and potential conflict among your loved ones. 

Intestacy Laws 

Without a will, your estate falls into intestacy. Intestacy laws, often referred to as "laws of intestate succession," come into play when an individual passes away without a legally valid will. Under these circumstances, the state steps in to dictate how the deceased's assets will be distributed among their surviving relatives. This process is guided by a predetermined legal framework that aims to reflect a fair distribution of your assets by assuming your wishes.  

In Texas, intestacy laws are designed to prioritize your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children. If you were married at the time of death, the share of your estate your spouse will receive depends on whether your assets are categorized as community property (assets acquired during the marriage) or separate property (assets acquired before the marriage, through inheritance, or as gifts). Generally, the surviving spouse retains half of the community property, while the deceased’s half may be passed to the surviving spouse, children, or other relatives, depending on the specific family situation. 

It's important to note that intestacy laws do not recognize unmarried partners, friends, or charities as potential heirs. Without a will, these parties would not receive any part of the estate, regardless of the deceased's wishes or intentions. 


Probate is a legal process during which a deceased person's will is validated and their estate is administered according to their wishes. This procedure entails identifying and inventorying the deceased's property, appraising the property, paying any outstanding debts and taxes, and ultimately distributing the assets to the rightful heirs as delineated in the will.  

Having a well-drafted will in place significantly can streamline the probate process. By clearly naming an executor and specifying how your assets should be divided, you can help the court efficiently execute the distribution of your estate. This can minimize the time and expenses associated with probate and help avert potential disputes among your beneficiaries over inheritance matters.  

While having a will does not avoid probate, it can provide a clear path for the court to follow, making sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes. 

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Create a Will? 

Creating a will without legal guidance may leave you vulnerable to mistakes or omissions that could render your will invalid or not reflective of your actual wishes. This, in turn, could lead to costly and stressful legal disputes for your loved ones after your passing. While it is not legally required to hire an attorney to create a will, seeking professional legal assistance is highly recommended, especially in states with intricate estate and probate laws. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide invaluable guidance to ensure that your will is both comprehensive and compliant with all applicable laws.  

Texas, like many states, has specific requirements regarding the drafting, signing, and witnessing of wills to ensure their validity. Attorneys can also offer advice on complex issues such as tax implications, the establishment of trusts, and guardianship nominations.  

While you can technically draft a will on your own, doing so without an estate planning attorney may not be in your best interest. Legal support can make sure your will is accurate, valid, and a true reflection of your wishes, especially in cases where you have complex family dynamics or significant assets or debts. 

Seek Help From an Estate Planning Attorney 

Creating a will is a critical step to make sure your assets and loved ones are taken care of after you pass away. In many cases, seeking the expertise of an estate planning attorney is recommended to craft a will that is legally sound and accurately reflects your wishes. Bloodworth Law Firm, PLLC, serving clients in Conroe, Huntsville, The Woodlands, and Livingston, is dedicated to providing personalized guidance to help ensure your will is thorough, compliant with Texas law, and tailored to your unique circumstances.