The Austin Court of Appeals was asked to decide what evidence proves an insane delusion. A general discussion of insane delusion relating to wills is here. The facts in the case were that the testator said in his will that he did not have any children. A woman claiming to be his daughter contested the will saying that the testator was operating under an insane delusion. The Austin appeals court ruled that the alleged daughter did not supply enough evidence to show that her alleged father was operating under an insane delusion and upheld his will. The court said that proving that the testator was married to her mother in 1927, that she was born a year later and that the testator and her mother were divorced one and one-half years after her birth, was insufficient evidence on the question of the testator having an insane delusion that he had no children.
The court explained its decision by stating “(n)othing in this proof raises a fact issue as to whether Hempel’s failure to include Carroll in his wills “was due to some organic defect in the brain or some functional disorder of the mind” or could not have been entertained by a rational person under the circumstances. Even if Carroll had raised a fact issue regarding whether she was Hempel’s child—on which we express no opinion—her proof, if anything, would be at least equally consistent with the inference that Hempel’s unwillingness to include her in his wills stemmed from a conscious, rational, and consistently-expressed desire not to reopen the long-closed chapter of his life involving (the former wife.)”
The 1929 divorce decree did say that there were no children of the marriage. There is a presumption that a child born during the marriage is the child of the husband and I’m sure that that presumption was around in 1929 but the Austin court apparently held that the divorce decree trumps any presumption or did not consider the presumption as affecting the will.
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By Robert Ray a Board Certified attorney. The foregoing information is general in nature and does not apply to every fact situation. We handle litigation involving inheritance disputes. We don’t prepare wills. We don’t file wills for probate or distribute estates except when we are contesting a will or protecting a will from a contest. 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.