Probate Process with a Handwritten (Holographic) Will in Texas



You can easily screw up and write something down that does not qualify as a will.  Also, if someone fights you in court, usually both sides have to hire a handwriting expert at $10,000 each (not counting lawyer costs)


1. What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person according to state law. It involves identifying and inventorying assets, paying off debts and taxes, and distributing remaining assets to beneficiaries or heirs.

2. When is Probate Required?

Probate is required when someone dies with assets in their name that aren’t transferred outside of probate. This includes property solely in the decedent’s name, like real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal property.

3. What is a Handwritten (Holographic) Will?

A handwritten will, also known as a holographic will, is

1.  written entirely in the handwriting of the testator,

2.  signed and dated by them.

In Texas, a handwritten will can be valid even if not prepared according to a typed will’s formalities. However, witnesses will be needed in court to verify the handwriting.  The document itself technically doesn’t need witnessing or even a notary.  But do it right — hire a lawyer and do a proper will!!!

4. Probate with a Handwritten (Holographic) Will

Probate with a handwritten will in Texas can be more complex than with a typed will. The court must determine the will’s validity and may require additional evidence to prove its authenticity.

5. Steps for Probate with a Handwritten (Holographic) Will

a. Filing the Will: The first step is to file the original handwritten will with the court in the decedent’s county of residence. The will should be accompanied by an application for probate and a death certificate.

b. Court Hearing and Validation: After filing the will, a court hearing will be scheduled to validate the will and determine its authenticity. The court will review the will to ensure it meets legal requirements for a valid will and that the testator wrote it.

c. Appointment of Executor: Once the court validates the will, an executor will be appointed to manage the estate. The executor is responsible for collecting and inventorying estate assets, paying off debts and taxes, and distributing remaining assets to beneficiaries or heirs named in the will.

d. Notices and Claims Process: The executor must notify all known creditors of the decedent’s death and give them an opportunity to file a claim against the estate. This protects the estate and ensures all debts are paid before distributing assets to beneficiaries.

e. Inventory and Appraisement: The executor is required to prepare an inventory and appraisement of the estate’s assets and debts. This includes determining the value of real estate, personal property, and other assets owned by the decedent at the time of their death. The appraisal must be conducted by a certified appraiser or a qualified individual approved by the court.

f. Payment of Debts and Taxes: The executor is responsible for paying any debts owed by the estate, including taxes, funeral expenses, and outstanding bills. This is done using funds from the estate.

g. Distribution of Assets: Once the debts and taxes have been paid, the executor can distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries or heirs named in the will. However, the executor must obtain court approval before making any distribution.


Probate with a handwritten will in Texas can be more complex than with a typed will, but it’s still an important process for ensuring the decedent’s assets are properly distributed to their intended beneficiaries. By understanding the steps involved and working with an experienced attorney, individuals can navigate the probate process more confidently.

Important Notes:

  • The probate process can vary depending on the specific circumstances.
  • Consider working with an experienced attorney familiar with Texas probate processes.
  • Handwritten wills in Texas can be invalidated if they don’t meet legal requirements.
  • Handwritten wills are generally discouraged due to potential disputes and legal challenges.

Overall, probate with a handwritten will in Texas is an important step, but it can be complex. Understanding the process and working with an attorney can help ensure a smoother probate process.