Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Assignment from an Ineffective Disclaimer

In his will, Rudolph Bittner devised his farm to Mary Ann Poppe, his niece. In the event that Poppe did not survive him, the farm was to pass to her daughters, Ritter and Filipp. Bittner intentionally made no provision in his will for his nephew, Till. When Bittner’s will was admitted to probate, Poppe disclaimed her interest in the farm. The disclaimer was later found to be ineffective. Till filed suit where in he was declared owner of the farm. Ritter and Filipp filed a suit against Till, asking for the court to declare them owners of the farm. Till claimed that Ritter and Filipp had no standing to maintain a suit because they had no ownership interest in the property. The 14th District Court of Appeals in Houston said that under the Texas statute, Poppe’s ineffective disclaimer amounted to an assignment of her interest in the farm to Ritter and Filipp. Therefore, they had an ownership interest in the farm sufficient to maintain suit against Till. Filipp v. Till, 2006 WL 3258701 (Tex.App.-Hous. (14 Dist.)).

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