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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.

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 was four pages long. The first two pages gave the testator’s property to his mother. The second page was signed by the witnesses. The third page was titled “REVOCATION OF WILLS—CODICILS.” That third page was signed by the testator. The fourth page had the notary “Before me, the undersigned…” language and was signed by the notary.

The wife contested the will. Her contention was that since the testator didn’t sign the will on the second page, the document did not meet the requirements of a will. The requirements are “Every last will and testament, except where otherwise provided by law, shall be in writing and signed by the testator in person or by another person for him by his direction and in his presence, and shall, if not wholly in the handwriting of the testator, be attested by two or more credible witnesses above the age of fourteen years who shall subscribe their names thereto in their own handwriting in the presence of the testator.”

The question for the court was whether the four pages satisfied the requirements of a will. The court ruled that the will did satisfy the requirements because, they held, the testator intended the document to be his will.

The location of the signature within the document has long been considered in determining the testator’s intent. Traditionally, Texas courts have accepted a wide variety of locations and forms as satisfying the “signature” requirement.  Some examples are: testator’s “x” was a sufficient signature on attested will; handwritten letter concluding, “Your brother, Ed,” was a sufficient signature; handwritten will beginning, “I, J.P.J. Dawson, being of sound mind . . . make this my last will and testament . . .” was sufficiently signed. The key inquiry however, remains whether the testator intended the mark to constitute an expression of his testamentary intent. 281 SW3d 592.

Copyright by Robert Ray a Texas inheritance attorney. The foregoing information is general in nature and does not apply to every fact situation. If you are concerned about inheritance laws, inheritance rights, have a family inheritance dispute, a property dispute or want information about contesting a will and need an inheritance lawyer, we can help. Please go to our main site www.texasinheritance.com and use the contact form to contact us today. We are Texas inheritance lawyers and would love to learn about your case and there is no fee for the initial consultation.

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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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