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Author: Robert Ray

How To Revoke A Trust In Texas

How can you revoke a trust in Texas? In a recent case in Texas, a mother and father had a trust for the benefit of their two children. The mother died. The father later remarried and had two additional children. The father attempted to revoke the first trust and made provisions for the property to go to his four children, share and share alike. When the father died, one of the first two children asked the court to declare that the revocation of the first trust was invalid. The court agreed stating: While a will is generally revocable at any time before the testator’s death, the law governing the revocation of a trust is different. A settlor may revoke a trust unless it is irrevocable by the express terms of the instrument creating it or of an instrument modifying it. No specific words of art are needed to create an irrevocable trust. However, the instrument must clearly reflect the settlors‘ intent to make the trust irrevocable. If a trust is revocable but provides specific terms for how it may be revoked, the trust may not be modified unless those terms are complied with. If settlor of trust reserves power to modify trust only in specific manner, trust may only be modified in that manner. If a trust is revocable and does not contain terms governing its modification or revocation,...

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Is A Will Voidable Because of Public Policy

Backbround In 2016, the Texas court of appeals in Austin had to decide if a will was voidable because of public policy. The testator had one child, a girl. Two days before he died, he executed a new will that disinherited his daughter. The daughter contested the will. Her principal theory was that her disinheritance by her father violated ” public policy” –namely Texas’s strong public policy against sexual abuse of children. As her basis for that theory, she alleged that her father had abused her sexually while she was a teenager and had disinherited her after she confronted him with those allegations decades later. Is A Will Voidable Because of Public Policy Texas courts have voided wills or provisions in wills based on public policy. Those cases might involve restrictions on marrying someone of a different race, placing restrictions on the acts of a guardian appointed by the court who also happens to be a beneficiary or similar provisions. Ruling by the Court In this case, the court held that there was no basis for voiding a will based on public policy. The court said: the Legislature has not seen fit either to require testators in (father’s) alleged position either to provide an inheritance for their victim or to proscribe them from disinheriting the victim. The closest the Legislature has come is to authorize probate courts to bar...

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This Blog Does Not Give Legal Advice

My practice is limited to trials involving inheritance disputes including will contest, related property disputes and associated torts. To ask privately about a Texas litigation issue involving an inheritance dispute, click button “Contact Robert” in the “about me” box on the...

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Is A Contingent Will Valid? What If The Contingency Never Occurs?

Is a Contingent Will Valid A will may be drawn to take effect on the happening of a contingency or condition. If the contingency or condition never occurs, it is void. An important class of contingent wills consist of instruments made to take effect as testaments in the event of the death of the maker from a particular illness, (i.e. “if I don’t survive my heart operation”) or before the happening of a certain event, such as returning to his home from a trip (i.e. “if I don’t return alive from my trip to India.”) If the testator survives the heart operation or if he returns alive from his India trip, the will is void. If the happening of the event is merely referred to as giving the reason or inducement for the making of the will, it will be held unconditional and a valid will no matter what happens; but, if it appears that the testator intended to dispose of his property in case of the happening of the named event, then it will be held to be conditional. So how do you determine if the testator intended a contingent or conditional will? The courts use “rules of construction” in determining if a will is contingent or not. Those rules are: the fact that testator left a will implies that he did not intend to die intestate; a...

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If You Move to Another State, is Your Will Still Valid?

Usually. Most states will admit a foreign will to probate even if it doesn’t meet all the requirements of a will as long as it is valid in the state in which it was executed. (The term foreign will is how courts describe another state’s will. It doesn’t mean a will from another country.) For instance, some states require that a will be attested to by two witnesses. Other states may require three witnesses. If you execute your will with two witnesses and it is valid in your old state, the new state will admit the will to probate even though it doesn’t meet the requirements of a will in the new state which may require three witnesses. However, wills are not always recognized by the new state. As an example, Texas and many other states recognize holographic wills. A holographic will is one that is wholly in the testator’s handwriting. It doesn’t require witnesses if it is wholly in the testator’s handwriting. Florida does not recognize holographic wills and will not recognize a foreign will if it is a holographic will even though it is valid in the prior state where it was written. Florida Probate Code, §732.502. Just to be safe, if you move to another state you should talk to an attorney who handles estate planning to make sure your will is valid in your new...

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About me

Robert Ray

Board Certified, Personal Injury Trial Law — Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We handle litigation cases related to inheritance disputes including will contest, related property disputes and associated torts throughout Texas. Our principal office is in Tyler, Texas. Contact Robert