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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.

Tag Archives: Preparing will

Should you prepare your own will?

At www.TexasInheritance.Com, we handle contested probate matters, usually involving litigation. We do not prepare wills. However, every lawyer receives questions about people preparing their own wills. We are often asked “You’re against  getting wills off the internet because you’re loosing money, isn’t that right?” or… Continue reading

Can you have an oral will?

Texas recognized oral wills (nuncupative wills) up to the year 2007. Now, oral wills cannot be offered for probate. I’ve written about oral wills on my main site, www.TexasInheritance.Com. To read more about oral wills, go here.

Is a forged will good for something?

Forged will starts limitations Is a forged will good for something? A forged will can be used to determine when the statute of limitations starts running says the San Antonio Court of Appeals. A man died. A will was offered and admitted to probate. One… Continue reading

Where do you sign a will?

In a recent case, the testator had what was obviously a self made will. It was not prepared by a lawyer. As you might expect in that situation, the will was contested. The contest involved the location of the signature of the testator. The will… Continue reading

Will Void If Attorney Prepares A Will And Is Beneficiary

Texas will is void if attorney is named beneficiary

Texas Rule

If an attorney prepares a will can the will name him as a beneficiary? The quick answer is no, it can’t.  Texas has a statute that says a devise or bequest of property in a will to an attorney or to an heir or employee of the attorney who prepares or supervises the preparation of the will is void. EC §254.003. In a recent case, an attorney prepares a will. He had a woman working in his office that was an independent contractor.  She claimed that she was not an employee of the attorney.  She was a paralegal but she just did occasional work for the attorney.  She also did occasional work for other attorneys who shared office space with the attorney who drafted the will.  The will made her a beneficiary and also appointed her as the executor of the will.

The Will Contest

A sister of the testator contested the provisions of the will leaving part of the estate to the paralegal.  The court agreed with the sister finding that the paralegal met the definition of employee under the statute and ordered the paralegal to return all of the property that she had received to the heirs of the testator.  The court also ordered the paralegal to pay the attorney fees of the sister. The paralegal appealed claiming that the statute did not apply to her since she was not an employee.  The appeals court disagreed and denied her appeal.  Jones v Krown.

Note:

A 2015 case out of Michigan indicates that Michigan law is different from Texas law. The Michigan case held that a will prepared by an attorney that left the attorney property was not necessarily void. The court held that under Michigan law, if the attorney could plead and prove that he did not unduly influence the testator, the will could be probated. The difference between Michigan and Texas is that a Texas statute declares the will void. There is no need to find that the attorney used undue influence. In Michigan, the rule is in their attorney’s Rules of Professional Conduct which are guidelines for attorneys’ conduct but don’t have the force of law like a statute. The attorney is presumed to have unduly influenced the testator but if the attorney can plead and prove that he did not exert undue influence, the will and the gift can be upheld. Florida has a similar rule, e.g. a gift to the attorney who prepares the will or his employees is not void but only voidable if undue influence can be shown.
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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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