In Texas, Validity of Handwritten Wills May Withstand Legal Scrutiny

Although the death last month of Billy Joe Shaver caught his family and friends by surprise, the iconic country music songwriter had the foresight to leave behind a will – or two.

According to McLennan County officials, Mr. Shaver filed an attorney-drafted will in 2003 naming his nephew the primary beneficiary. However, in the wake of his death, his longtime record producer has produced a handwritten will dated 2008 making him the estate’s sole beneficiary. Although it is not optimal, Dallas estate planning and probate attorney Jake Pollack of Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, says as long as it meets specific requirements, a handwritten will can be deemed valid in Texas.

“Under state law, a will must be in writing and signed by the testator. For a handwritten will be to valid it must be ‘wholly’ in the testator’s handwriting. That generally means that every word, numeral, and symbol on every page must be in the testator’s handwriting,” says Mr. Pollack.

“If the 2008 document was wholly handwritten by Mr. Shaver and indicates that he intended for it to be his will, if there is no contention that he lacked sufficient mental capacity when he made and signed it, and if there is no indication that it resulted from undue influence or duress, then it should be a valid will.”

For more information, please contact Rhonda Reddick at 800-559-4534 or

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