If a person fails to prepare and properly execute a will then that person has died intestate. The Texas Probate Code has a long history of providing a procedure by which the assets of an estate can be disbursed to those persons whom the court judges to be heirs of the estate after hearing the evidence. This procedure is called a determination of heirship and includes among other things the appointment of an attorney ad litem. The rules of intestate succession apply. While the Texas Probate Code attempts to provide for a just, logical and equitable distribution of the estate’s assets, the final distribution may not be in a manner which the decedent had preferred. Furthermore, the costs of a determination of heirship will be greater than the costs of an uncontested probate proceeding.
The cost of a do it yourself will kit from an office supply store may be as little as $39.99 plus tax while the cost of a will prepared by an attorney can average $250.00. The $205.00 difference is negligible when you consider the peace of mind from having a will which is properly and professionally drafted and executed.
It has been my experience that 100% of the wills prepared by myself or other attorneys are admitted by the courts as a legitimate will while almost 100% of the wills prepared from a do-it-yourself will kit or self-drafted will usually fail to be admitted as a will due to various technical but important omissions, oversights or discrepancies.
The consequences of not having a will or having a will which either fails to qualify as a will or has other technical short comings with unintended consequences can cost the estate and ultimately the heirs far more money and anguish than the small amount of money saved by using a do-it-yourself will kit.
...Stay Tuned for Part Three!