Developments In Inheritance Laws

This blog does not give legal advice or create an attorney client relationship. You are not permitted to rely on anything in this blog for any reason. My practice is limited to trials involving inheritance disputes including will contest, related property disputes and associated torts. If you comment on an article, your question and name are public. To ask privately about a Texas litigation issue involving an inheritance dispute, click the big red button to go to our main site's contact page.

Necessary Parties To Will Contest

Necessary parties to will contestNecessary parties to will contest

In every lawsuit, there are necessary parties. For instance, a husband cannot file for divorce without making his wife a party and serving her with citation. The same may be true in will contest but there is a difference between states as to who constitutes a necessary party.

In Rem

In Texas, will contest are In Rem, while in other states, will contest or In Personam. In Rem means about the thing while In Personam means about the person. Because Texas will contest are in rem, such proceedings are binding on all persons interested in the estate of the decedent whether or not they have actual notice of the proceeding and Continue reading

Pay On Death Beneficiary Designation

Pay on death beneficiary designationNon Probate Assets

Financial accounts like checking accounts, savings accounts, C.D.’s and retirement accounts are non probate assets. That means that a person’s will does not control who gets the funds. The beneficiary designation on those accounts determine who gets the funds. They do not pass through probate. The same is true of joint accounts with right of survivorship.

Pay On Death Beneficiary Designation

Owners of the financial accounts sign a Pay On Death Beneficiary Designation form “POD.” The person designated as Continue reading

Probating A Newer Will


I’ve written about how accepting benefits under a will may prevent or estop a person from contesting that will. In a 2014 case a trial court ruled that a party was estopped from probating a newer will and from contesting the older will. The trial court held that the party had accepted benefits under the older will and that estopped him from probating the newer will. The trial court also held that probating the newer will was a contest of the older will which the party could not do because of his acceptance of benefits under the older will.

Accepting Benefits Under Older Will

In this case the San Antonio Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s ruling that a party could not probate a newer will Continue reading

“Interested Persons” Can Contest Wills.

Only "interested persons" can contest a will.Interested Persons

The Texas Estates Code provides “interested Persons” the right to file a will contest. If a contestant is not an interested person, he cannot file a will contest. So who is an interested person? An interested person is an heir, devisee, spouse, creditor, or any other having a property right in or claim against an estate being administered and anyone interested in the welfare of an incapacitated person, including a minor. 22.018.

Paying Funeral Expenses

In a 2014 case decided by the Beaumont court of appeals involving an alleged common law wife of the decedent and the Continue reading

Family Settlement Agreement And Jurisdiction.

Family settlement agreements and jurisdictionJurisdiction After A Family Settlement Agreement

In a 2014 probate case out of the Austin court of appeals, the executor appealed an order from the probate court requiring her to file an accounting. The executor claimed that since all the parties had entered into a family settlement agreement, the probate court no longer had jurisdiction to order the accounting.


Three sisters signed a family settlement agreement dividing their mother’s estate “as equally as possible.” The executor was one of the sisters. She distributed the financial accounts equally. The mother also owned a farm on Continue reading