It could be legal if it meets certain requirements for a handwritten will. Look up Texas Probate Code Sections 60 and 84, or you can schedule a free consultation with an attorney in your area. A probate attorney can tell you if this "letter" can actually be considered a valid Will under Texas law.
In general, a handwritten will must be completely in the testator's handwriting, signed, and dispose of testator's property upon death.
Again, I recommend meeting with an attorney for help. Even if the letter can't be legally considered a Will, there are options available for legally transferring your brother-in-law's property.
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You are going to need an estates lawyer to help you here. Call Mr. Shutt as he offers insight into this problem.
Hope this helps.
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Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org , his website is www.sjfpc.com. and his blog is <http://frommtaxes.wordpress.com/>
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I agree with the other responses. Most states have laws providing for "holographic Wills" to be admitted to probate, if they meet certain requirements. Whether your written letter qualifies or not is not clear from your facts.
As is the case with ANY Will, the document only applies to assets titled in the decedent's name alone. If the assets are jointly owned or have a beneficiary designated, the Will would not apply. Additionally, many states have statutes that include allowances and exemptions for children. Even if the document IS determined to qualify as a Will, there may be other issues that you need to deal with.
I highly recommend you meet with a probate attorney to see what you have and how best to proceed. Attorney Shutt has already given you a good response. I would contact him first.
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