Friday, November 20, 2015
A battle of over the estate of a wealthy socialite captivated Dallas for a number of years as two antique dealers sought to have a will probated that left them a multi-million dollar house but was signed eight days before the death of the testator. After a court found the will invalid, criminal charges were brought and resulted in the dealers being convicted for attempted theft of property. However, the dealers challenged the conviction arguing that the attempted probate of an invalid will is not a criminal act. But the Dallas Court of Appeals held that the criminal charge only required a showing of intent to steal from those that have a legal right to the inheritance. A good faith will contest will not lead to criminal charges and it was the specific facts of this case which supported the prosecution. Now, it will be a matter of time to see if this ruling will lead to more prosecutions of those that try to probate a will in bad faith.
See J. Michael Young, When offering a will can lead to criminal charges, Texas Probate Litigation, November 19, 2015.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.