Can X Mark the Spot?

Signing the will is one of the most important parts of making a valid will. But what is a signature? The courts say it is any visible mark made by a testator (person making the will) with the intent that the mark be a signature. Many options are available.

Law

The Texas Estates Code section 251.051 requires a will to be in writing and signed by the testator in person or by another person on behalf of the testator.

Texas courts have been lenient regarding the location and form of a signature. What is important is the testator having the intent that his name or mark constitute his signature.

With that in mind, you can imagine the different ways a will could be signed.

Testator Signing

The courts have found that a signature by initials executes a will. What about signing the will so it matches the type written version of the name? That is not required. The court has even found a will to be valid when the testator left out their first name in their signature.

What about the location of the signature? Texas Courts have accepted the signature anywhere on the will. Even an “X” for the testator's signature is enough.

Others Signing for Testator

Other people can sign for the testator. However, it must be signed in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s direction. Early in my career I was vigilant about the Testator signing their own name on the will, even when they physically struggled to form the letters. Ironically, it was always a witness who asked me whether they could sign for the testator; I never had a testator ask to relinquish the duties of signing.

A testator may instruct another person to sign their name by hand. A court has even found a will valid when a testator instructed another person to use a rubber stamp of the testator’s name as a signature.

Conclusion

Ideally, the testator would sign the will using his full name at the end of the will. However, it may not always be possible when the testator has a physical disability. It is not hard to imagine the challenges that could be made if a testator does not actually sign his name by himself. Therefore, I would not recommend using any method other than having the testator sign the will using his full signature, except under extreme circumstances.

Contact the Law Office of Hugh Spires, Jr., PLLC at 210-874-5700 or complete a contact form at www.TexasWillsLawyer.com for a free consultation to discuss your estate planning needs.

About Hugh

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Hugh has been practicing law since 1995. He served 20 years in the Air Force JAG Corps as an attorney, where he provided estate planning for military members, retirees and their dependents. He understands the inconvenience and burden of traveling to an attorney’s office, yet he appreciates the importance of obtaining legal services when you need it.

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