Conditional Wills

In re Estate of Perez, 155 S.W.3d 599 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2004, no pet.).


Testator’s will included the following language, “because I am sick and waiting for a heart surgery, and providing ahead of any emergency, I make the following disposition to be fulfilled in case my death occurs during the surgery.” Testator did not die during the surgery. Instead, he died later at his sister’s home. The lower court admitted the will to probate and denied Contestants’ motion for a summary judgment that the will was not entitled to probate.

The appellate court reversed. The court explained that the effectiveness of Testator’s will was conditioned on his death during the surgery. Because he survived the surgery and died later, the will was ineffective. The court recognized that statements of the reasons why a person is executing a will are normally deemed inducements and not conditions. However, in this case, Testator’s language was unambiguous that his will was to be effective only if he died during the surgery.

Moral: The court will give effect to a condition triggering the effectiveness of a will. Thus, a will drafter must be careful not to inadvertently impose a condition in situations where the testator does not actually intend to do so.