Estate of Danford, 550 S.W.3d 275 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2018, no pet.).


Will Contests


Contestants claimed that Decedent’s will was invalid on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence. The trial court issued a summary judgment in favor of Proponent and Contestants appealed.


The appellate court reversed. The court examined the record and determined that there were fact issues making the summary judgment improper that Decedent has testamentary capacity. For example, none of the people with Decedent at the time of will execution indicated that Decedent knew she was signing a will, understood the effect of making a will, was aware of the general nature of her property, or knew the identity of her next of kin.


With regard to the undue influence claim, the court focused on the fact that Proponent of the will who was a beneficiary thereunder was also named as Decedent’s agent under a durable power of attorney. This caused the burden of proof to shift to Proponent to show the fairness of the transaction and lack of undue influence.


Moral:  A summary judgment of testamentary capacity or lack of undue influence is hard to uphold on appeal as any fact issue is likely to cause the appellate court to reverse.