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Addressing Property Distribution in Texas: Codicils, Memos, and Will Updates

This legal question related to estate planning in EastlandTexas has been answered.

Location: Eastland  |  Law type: estate planning

Can I do a formal codicil to my will, with witnesses and notarized affidavit, instead of having a new one drawn up?

I did a will in 2019 saying executor will sell all and divide between four relatives.  Since then, I've transferred almost all of my land and personal property to two of these relatives.  I would like to explain the value the other two received during their lifetimes, so there isn't a dispute about being treated unfairly.  I've read that a codicil could do that and also let me give instruction for the few personal items that are left (antique breakfront; deceased husband's tools, etc), but a neighbor said codicils are not allowed in Texas unless there is a large estate, so I should just attach a "memo" to the will. I only have my social security and cannot afford a new will.  I don't want to leave my executor with a dispute.

Legal Solution

The response provided below is specific to estate planning in the jurisdiction of Eastland. If the response is inadequate, please submit a detailed inquiry.

Addressing Property Distribution in Texas: Codicils, Memos, and Will Updates

The distribution of assets after one's passing is a delicate matter. Ensuring that your wishes are respected and understood can be of paramount importance, especially when circumstances change. If you previously drafted a will in Texas, there are ways to make updates without rewriting the entire document. However, it's essential to understand the correct procedures and potential implications.

Relevant Statutes and Resources

  • Texas Estates Code: This is the primary body of law governing estate planning, wills, and probate in Texas.
  • Texas State Government Website: This is the main site for the Texas government, which may provide further resources or guidelines on estate planning.

Solutions and Recommendations

  1. Codicils: In Texas, a codicil can be used to make changes to an existing will. A codicil must be executed with the same formalities as the original will. This means having witnesses and, if you choose, a notarized affidavit. If executed correctly, a codicil can clarify asset distribution and reduce potential disputes.

  2. Memos: A memo, or "memorandum," can be attached to a will to provide instructions on tangible personal property. However, this memo isn't legally binding like a will or codicil. It serves as guidance for your executor but isn't enforceable in court. Thus, for significant changes or to avoid disputes, a codicil may be more appropriate.

  3. Seek Legal Counsel: To ensure that your wishes are documented correctly, it would be wise to consult with a probate lawyer in Texas. Even if costs are a concern, many attorneys offer affordable consultation rates, and they might provide essential guidance.

Estimated Legal Costs in Eastland, Texas

Service Average Cost
Consultation with a Probate Lawyer $150 - $250 per hour
Drafting a Codicil $300 - $600
Notary Services $6 - $15 per signature
Drafting a Memo (non-binding) $100 - $250

Note: These prices are average estimates, and the actual cost can vary based on the complexity of the case and the attorney's experience. In Texas, notary public fees are set by the state and can't exceed $6 for standard notarizations, with some exceptions for different services.

Further Clarifications and Call to Action

Your concern about leaving a clear and non-disputable will is valid. It would be wise to address these changes in a legally recognized manner. I recommend you compare lawyers in your area to find the best fit for your needs.

To provide further assistance:

  1. Have there been any other significant changes since the last will was drafted?
  2. Are you aware of any potential disputes among the named beneficiaries?
  3. Are there any other specific items or assets you wish to address in this update?

Frequently Asked Questions in Estate Planning in Eastland, Texas

Can I change my will without an attorney?

While you can technically change your will without an attorney, it's advisable to consult with one to ensure that the changes are legally valid and enforceable.

How often should I update my will?

You should review and potentially update your will after significant life events such as marriages, births, deaths, or substantial changes in assets.

What happens if I don't update my will?

If you don't update your will, the existing document will be enforced upon your death. This may not reflect your current wishes, leading to potential disputes among beneficiaries.

Are online will-writing services valid in Texas?

Online will-writing services can be valid in Texas if the resulting document adheres to Texas law. However, it's always recommended to consult with a local attorney.

Can I leave assets to a charity in my will?

Yes, you can leave assets to a charity in your will. Ensure that you specify the charity's correct name and any specific instructions about the donation.


This content is for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It's always recommended to consult with a local attorney about your specific situation.

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