Testamentary Capacity

Evidence Sufficient to Support Jury Verdict of Lack of Capacity

In re Estate of Robinson, 140 S.W.3d 782 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi-Edinburg 2004, pet. denied).


Testatrix executed Will 1 and Will 2. A jury found that Will 2 was invalid because Testatrix lacked testamentary capacity and had been unduly influenced. Accordingly, the court admitted Will 1 to probate. Proponents of Will 2 appealed.

The appellate court affirmed. The court rejected Proponents’ claim that the trial court improperly admitted the testimony of a doctor who testified as an expert witness because the testimony was unscientific and unreliable for failing to met the standards of Texas case law. Proponents claimed there was an impermissible analytical gap between the medical records the doctor examined and the conclusion that Testatrix lacked capacity. After an extensive review of the doctor’s testimony, the court determined that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the testimony.

The appellate court also rejected Proponents’ claim that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding of lack of capacity. The court exhaustively reviewed the evidence presented to the jury and determined that it was sufficient to support its verdict.

Moral: It is difficult to convince an appellate court to set aside a jury finding that a testator lacked testamentary capacity.


Estate Administration

Statute of Limitations

Will Contest

In re Estate of Robinson, 140 S.W.3d 782 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi-Edinburg 2004, pet. denied).


A will was properly contested within two years after its admission to probate as required by Probate Code § 93. After the two years elapsed, additional parties joined the contest. Both the trial and appellate court agreed that these parties were not barred by the two year statute of limitations because they intervened as plaintiffs even though they would have been barred if they had instituted their suit in a separate action.

Moral: A party may join a timely filed will contest even after the normal statute of limitations has expired.