Sunday, August 25, 2019
The decedent handwrote and signed a document which provided, “Karen Grenrood is my executor, administrator, [and] has all legal rights to my estate in the case of my untimely or timely death.” The contestants claimed that this document lacked testamentary intent and thus is not a will which is admissible to probate. The trial court agreed.
The appellate court reversed. Consistent with the Texas Supreme Court case of Boyles v. Gresham, 263 S.W.2d 935 (1954), the court held that a document which appoints an executor can be a will even if it does not make an effective disposition of the testator’s property. The court also quoted Estates Code § 22.034(2)(A) which defines the term “will” as including an instrument which merely appoints an executor. In addition, the court held that the decedent’s document is ambiguous and could actually dispose of the entire estate to Karen by stating that she has “all legal rights” to his estate. [The court did not, however, order the document admitted to probate because the contestants also alleged undue influence, an issue the trial court had yet to resolve.]
See David Fowler Johnson, Texas Court Concludes There was a Fact Question as to Whether A Hand-Written Document was a Will, Texas Fiduciary Litigator, August 17, 2019.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.