Denton County Will Contest

Decedent was an 86 year old woman. She had a daughter and a son. She generally had a good relationship with both of the children. She suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and related ailments. In the last several years of her life, she was dependent upon oxygen to breathe. Her husband tragically died of cancer shortly after diagnosis. She was so distraught, that she was unable to attend his wake. She also sought the comforts of alcohol, while taking various prescription medications.

Shortly after her death, her daughter discovered that the Decedent had executed a new will the day after her husband’s funeral. This will left everything to her son. Not only did the will not provide for her daughter, it did not even mention the daughter. Son filed the will for probate in Denton County. 

The daughter hired attorney Michael Young to contest the will. Michael Young conducted an investigation and determined that the son had not taken the Decedent to be examined by a professional to evaluate her mental and emotional condition. Nor did he convene close friends and family members to discuss the will with Decedent, or witness its execution. Instead, he took her to the city hall to have the will witnessed and notarized. Those witnesses did not know the Decedent well and did not interact closely with her during the time it took to witness the will. What they can remember is that she was dependent upon oxygen to breathe during the will execution. That the Decedent would disinherit her daughter was not consistent with recollections of those who knew the Decedent for many years. In fact, the Decedent had made explicit comments to at least one friend regarding possessions she would leave to her daughter.

Attorney Young filed a will contest in Denton County Probate Court, asserting a lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence. Very shortly thereafter, the attorney for the son reached out to attorney Young to suggest mediation. The parties attended mediation and the daughter received a settlement in cash and property.