A testator may possess capacity, but still be subject to undue influence

Last year, my opposing counsel in a will contest case argued to the Judge that a jury shouldn't even consider evidence of undue influence until it decided whether the testator had capacity.  His position was that a finding that the testator had capacity would render moot my client's alternative position that the testator was unduly influenced. The Judge rejected that argument.  Texas law is  that a testator with capacity to execute a will may still be subject to undue influence. A good example in this regard is found In re Estate of Reno. In that case, the Texarkana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's determination that the testator lacked testamentary capacity.  However, the court of Appeals affirmed the ruling that the testator was unduly influenced to make the will at issue. In its decision, the Court of Appeals noted:

To prove whether the testator's free will was subverted or overcome, we examine the testator's mental or physical incapacity to resist or susceptibility to influence. Weakness of mind or body are relevant inquiries.

Therefore, medical evidence regarding the testator's mental and physical condition can still be critical, even when the issue is undue influence instead of testamentary capacity. Fort Worth and Tarrant County Will Contest LawyersContesting a Will in Texas

TXPLMichael Young