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Wills and Trusts
South Texas College of Law Houston
Jenkins, Helen Bishop

Wills, Trusts, and Estates
Prof. Helen Jenkins
Basics methods of transfer at death:
Testate– with a will
In testate– without a will or with a failed will. Note: The statutes of descent and distribution will determine heirship here.   Look to  the Table of Consanguinity to see the degrees-of-relationship for heirship distribution.
Living trust
Joint tenancy
Life insurance
Testator—the person whose wishes are expressed in the will.
Will – states the testator’s wishes on how to dispose of their property on their death
·         Holographic Will – written in the testator’s handwriting
Probate– the process used to carry out the desires in a will
Traditional distinctions
·         Land or real property is devised. The party receiving is the devisee.
·         Personal property is bequeathed. The party receiving is the legatee.
·         Both the legatee and the devisee are beneficiaries
·         When one dies, does the state of Texas get the property? No, statutes of descent and distribution determine the distribution of property of a person who dies In testate
·         Heirs take the land of an In testate person
·         Next of kin take the personal property of an In testate person
H and W have three children A, B, and C and one grandchild D; who are H’s heirs is the question asked of the attorney? Technically, nobody is an heir until H dies. There are only heirs apparent. A will has no power or authority prior to the testator’s death.
A will is a document that explains how the testator wants his property distributed after his death.A will has no power or authority prior to the testator’s death.Statutes of descent and distribution determine how property will distributed upon the death of someone’s death when they die In testate.
Requirements of a will:
Testamentary intent– The testator must have testamentary intent (the intent to give at death). Testamentary intent MUST be found within the four corners of the will. Cannot bring in circumstantial evidence to prove. “My will” – intent, “I leave” – no inte

must be “above the age of 14.”Revocation- when a subsequent will puts an earlier version to death. If the second will (which should revoke the first will) is invalid, then the first will is the only one valid. If the first will is invalid, then the testator died In testate (without a valid will). Best way to revoke a will is to tear it up with the intent to revoke that version.There is no partial revocation by a physical act in Texas.If you revoke your own will, you must have the intent to revoke the version of the will you are revoking and you must destroy all versions you are revoking.Codicil- an amendment provision to a will. Must be properly executed. Execute a codicil in the same manner you execute the entire will.Estate Administration is the process of probate. The process of probate means to determine if a will is good.