Friday, August 11, 2017
A Corpus Christi Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s jury verdict denying probate of a will based on allegations of undue influence. To show undue influence, a plaintiff must prove three elements: “(1) the existence and exertion of an influence; (2) that subverted or overpowered the testator’s mind at the time he executed the instrument; (3) so that the testator executed an instrument he would not otherwise have executed but for that influence.” In Estate of Jose M. Rodriguez, the jury found that the decedent’s daughter was the sole beneficiary of the will, that she wrote checks on his account until they bounced, chose the lawyer that drafted the will, and that the testator disinherited seven of this other children in favor of his daughter; one of the children is confined to a wheelchair. While no piece of evidence, on its own, is usually enough to justify a finding of undue influence, the aggregate of these factors was enough for the jury to find the daughter exercised undue influence over her father.
See J. Michael Young, Corpus Christi Court Upholds Undue Influence Verdict, Texas Probate Litigation, August 1, 2017.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.