In re Estate of Redus, 321 S.W.3d 160 (Tex. App.—Eastland 2010, no pet.).




Proponent One sought to probate Testator’s 2007 will naming Proponent One as the sole beneficiary. Proponent Two claimed that the 2007 will was invalid and sought to probate Testator’s 2005 will naming Proponent Two as a primary beneficiary. The trial court determined that Proponent Two lacked standing and dismissed Proponent Two’s action. Proponent Two appealed.

The appellate court reversed. The court began its analysis by looking at Probate Code § 10 which requires that a person must have an interest in an estate to have standing. The court then turned to Probate Code § 3(r)’s definition of “interested person.” Even Proponent One agreed that a beneficiary of a prior will has standing. However, Proponent One asserted that Proponent Two failed to introduce important evidence at the in-limine hearing such as the 2005 will itself, proof of the elements necessary to probate a missing will, and evidence to overcome the presumption of revocation that arises when the original cannot be produced. The appellate court explained the Proponent One was commingling the issues to be decided in an in-limine hearing with those decided at a trial on the merits. To establish standing, it was sufficient for Proponent Two to testify that he was a beneficiary of Testator’s 2005 will, file a copy of the will, and present other evidence of the will’s existence and that he was a named beneficiary (e.g., testimony from the drafting attorney). Accordingly, Proponent Two has standing.

Moral: The requirements to establish standing to contest a will or probate a will are significantly less than the requirements to contest a will successfully or to have the will admitted to probate.