1 November 2012

Le v. Nguyen: Evidence Supported Decedent’s Lack of Capacity

“Deathbed” wills are often suspect, with this case a compelling example. According to the facts set out in the Houston (14th) Court of Appeal’s decision, the decedent’s sister hired an attorney to prepare a new will while he was in hospital and dying of cancer.  He signed the will four days before he died. The jury found that decedent lacked capacity to execute that will. In affirming the jury’s verdict, the Court of Appeals noted that the testimony and related evidence was conflicting. However, the Court noted that there was sufficient evidence of lack of capacity, including: Alex was in the final stages of […]
3 February 2012

Failure to probate will cost son mineral interests

I have written previously that legal heirs and beneficiaries should pay close attention to mineral interests possibly owned by the decedent.   With modern drilling technologies, previously dormant areas have become hot beds of drilling activity.  A prime example is the Eagle Ford Shale formation in South Texas, streching from Webb to Karnes to Leon counties. Several will contests and trust disputes I’ver handled involved oil and gas interests throughout Texas.  What was previously a relatively modest estate can become quite large if the interest is in one of the modern drilling hot beds, such as the Eagle Ford Shale, the […]
22 February 2010

Oil and gas royalties

Legal heirs and beneficiaries should pay close attention to mineral interests associated with land owned by the decedent. The Barnett Shale has brought an economic boom to parts of North Texas, with many landowners receiving significant royalty and bonus checks for drilling of natural gas. Not surprisingly, these mineral interests can represent a significant portion of a decedent’s estate. I recently represented children who had been disinherited.  We gathered important evidence that their stepfather had exercised undue on their mother and filed a will contest In Tarrant County Probate Court. The case settled and I was able to obtain for […]
5 January 2009

Unsuitable executor

Texas Probate Code Section 78(e) provides that a person whom the court finds unsuitable is disqualified from serving as an executor.  The term “unsuitable” is not defined.  The Texarkana Court of Appeals recently considered its application in In re Estate of Boren. The decision first noted that the trial court has discretion to determine suitability.  That decision will only be overturned if the trial court judge “acts in an arbitrary or unreasonable manner without reference to any guiding rules or principles.”  In upholding the trial court judge, the appellate court referenced the following facts from the record supporting the unsuitability […]