Signing a Will in All the Wrong Places

Robert Ray

Where do you sign a Texas will?

In a recent case, 01-20-00073-CV, a Texas will was offered for probate. The trial court did not admit the will to probate because the testator just initialed six pages and did not sign on the seventh page where the document had a space for his signature. The trial court determined that the will was not properly signed. The proponent of the will appealed.

Initials are OK in Texas

The court of appeals reversed the trial court and admitted the will to probate even though it was initialed not signed. The appeals court held that:

“Except as otherwise provided by law,” a will must be: (1) in writing; (2) signed by the testator in person;[3] and (3) “attested by two or more credible witnesses who are least 14 years of age and who subscribe their names to the will in their own handwriting in the testator’s presence.”..”Texas courts have been lenient regarding the location and form of a ‘signature.'”…A signature may be informal, and its location of secondary importance, if the maker intended his or her name or mark to constitute a signature expressing approval of the instrument as the maker’s will…”it is necessary that the maker intend that his name or mark constitute a signature, i.e., that it expresses approval of the instrument as his will”…The facts and circumstances surrounding the instrument’s execution may be considered in determining whether the maker intended a testamentary disposition of his property…”The key inquiry, however, remains whether the testator intended the mark to constitute an expression of his testamentary intent.”

Considering this case law, we conclude that Wendell’s initials on pages one through six of his will are sufficient to satisfy Section 251.051’s signature requirement, just as any other mark made by him would be, so long as he “intended the mark to constitute an expression of his testamentary intent.”

The court went on to say that the opponent of the will did not put on any evidence to the contrary.

I have a short podcast on the signing of a will.

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Robert Ray

Robert Ray handles inheritance disputes of all kinds. He takes cases throughout Texas.
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