Court Bonds

Court Ruling on Holographic Will in Texas


What can happen when someone dies without a will—but has left a hand written note expressing intentions for the distribution of assets? Read on to explore what happened in a recent case in Texas.

 Understanding Holographic Wills

In some states, including Texas, holographic wills are permissible alternatives to traditional wills, which are normally developed under the guidance of lawyers. As explained by Investopedia:

A holographic will is a handwritten and testator-signed document….Some states do not recognize holographic wills. States that do permit holographic wills require the document meet specific requirements to be valid.

In most states, minimal requirements for accepting a holographic will include proof that it was in fact made by the testator (deceased person)—and that the testator had the mental capacity to do so. A holographic will must also contain the wishes for how the testator wanted to distribute assets to beneficiaries. Signature by the testator is also critically important. Investopedia notes:

Holographic wills do not need to be witnessed or notarized, which can lead to some issues during will validation in probate court. To avoid fraud, most states require that a holographic will contain the maker’s signature. However, the courts will have to determine whether the will was signed in the testator’s signature and by the testator’s hand.

 Signature Please: The Details Matter

Recently, the court of appeals in  San Antonio Texas focused the spotlight on the necessity of clear and intentional sign-off by the testator on a holographic will. As JD Supra reports:

 In the Estate of Hohmann, the decedent died without leaving an executed will, but his caretaker found a hand written document wherein the decedent stated his wishes for his property…. The decedent’s cousin filed an application to probate the hand written document as a written will, and an heir of the decedent filed an opposition. The trial court granted summary judgment for the opponent, and the applicant appealed.

 Upon examination of the holographic will, the appellate court determined that it had not been signed by the deceased—and rejected the claim that the use of the phrase “R. Hohmann Estate” served as a signature. Importantly, the court’s summation of the decision included this point:

While the signature may be informal and its location is of secondary importance, it is still necessary that the maker intend that his name or mark constitute a signature, i.e., that it expresses approval of the instrument as his will. (No. 04-20-00237-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 9216)

Worth Knowing: Decisions In Probate Court

When there is no will, probate courts use state laws of intestate succession to distribute assets to heirs. Generally, the court will appoint an administrator to administer the estate of someone who has died—and require procurement of an administrator bond, before the affairs of the estate can begin to be settled.

An administrator bond is a type of fiduciary bond  that protects the interests of the estate and its heirs in accordance with state law. When a judge requires an administrator bond, it must be secured and filed promptly.

Easily obtain an administrator bond from a leading, national provider: Colonial Surety Company. Uniquely, Colonial offers direct, digital, administrator bonds. Sometimes these bonds are referred to as executor, estate, fiduciary, personal representative or probate bonds. Colonial provides all of them. Just get a quote online, fill out your information, and enter your payment method. Print or e-file the bond right from your home or office—even while at court. It’s that simple.

Learn More and Get Your Administrator Bond Here.

Explaining Takes Time…Bonding Does Not Have To!

Lawyers: save your time—and your client’s money—when you sign up for a free Partnership Account® with Colonial Surety Company.  This complimentary business service provides attorneys with user-friendly client management dashboards to coordinate, view, complete and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need.

Stop shuffling around to help clients secure court or fiduciary bonds and respond to deadlines. Colonialdirect, fully digital, user-friendly system reduces the time, hassle and expense typically associated with antiquated processes. Our unique Partnership Account® will increase your efficiency—and lower costs for clients. See for yourself today: Colonial’s Partnership Account for Attorneys.

Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct seller and writer of surety bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.