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Interesting Developments In Inheritance Laws

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 the big red button to go to our main site's contact page and ask a question privately.

Can a testator be unduly influenced when they are incompetent?

Can a testator be unduly influenced when they are incompetent?

Facts

An appeals court recently had to decide if a jury’s verdict that the testator lacked testamentary capacity and their verdict that the testator was unduly influenced was so conflicting that the verdict had to be set aside. In Texas, if a jury verdict has an irreconcilable conflict, the court is obligated to reverse the case.

Can a testator be unduly influenced when they are incompetent?

In general, undue influence presumes that the testator has testamentary capacity. Ruling that there was no irreconcilable conflict, the court noted that the Supreme Court has recognized that a finding of undue influence implies the existence of a sound mind. However, no court has held that a finding of undue influence requires the existence of sound mind. In fact weakness of mind and body, whether produced by infirmities of age or by disease or otherwise, may be considered as a material circumstance in determining whether or not a person was in a condition to be susceptible to undue influence. The court stated that in order to be an irreconcilable conflict, one of the jury’s answers would require a verdict for the contestant and the other would require a verdict for the proponent. Since both of these findings by the jury would require a verdict for the contestant’s, there was no irreconcilable conflict. 350 S.W.3d 130.

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We handle litigation involving inheritance disputes. We don't prepare wills. We handle a select few cases on contingency. Don't use a comment to ask a personal question about an inheritance issue because your name and comment will be public. To ask a litigation question and to protect your privacy, click the red button to the right.


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