Will contests: No two are the same
I enjoy handling will contest cases because I can help heirs and beneficiaries protect their inheritances. I also enjoy the challenge of evaluating these cases, as no two are the same. Each case is highly dependent on the facts and how they are discovered and presented. In a very recent decision, the Amarillo Court of Appeals began its analysis by highlighting the factually intensive nature of will contests:
This is a will contest wherein allegations of lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence typically stand or fall depending on the sufficiency of the facts underlying the trial court's judgment. . . . In that regard, no two cases are alike. Given the polarity in the parties' factual contentions, it is necessary to undertake a detailed summation of the evidence presented during the two day bench trial.
The court of appeals reviewed the evidence and noted that the testator's mental health had been failing, she needed assistance to even sign the will, and she was admitted to hospice care days later. Furthermore, the primary beneficiary of that 2010 will hired the attorney who drafted the will, had the primary input into its terms, and arranged the execution. Therefore, the trial Judge properly denied that will for probate, due to a lack of capacity and undue influence.