Friday, June 2, 2017
Texas appellate courts have been split on the issue of whether “tortious interference with inheritance rights” is a recognized cause of action in the state. The Texas Supreme Court recently had an opportunity to provide a definitive answer to this question but passed on the opportunity in Kinsel v. Lindsey. Instead, the court held that the imposition of a constructive trust in cases of undue influence or fraud was a sufficient remedy. While no definitive answer was provided as to whether the cause of action exists, the case has a few important takeaways for fiduciaries, financial advisors, and estate planners. First, the court clarified that it had not implicitly recognized intentional interference with inheritance rights as an actionable tort in prior cases. Second, juries may find that a settlor lacked capacity despite an estate planner’s best efforts to insure that capacity was present. And finally, a small break for the estate planner, the courts may hold that the planner was not acting inappropriately even with a jury finding that a settlor did not have capacity.
See Tortious Interference with Inheritance Rights in Texas? Still an Unanswered Question, Lexology, June 1, 2017.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.