Is A Will Voidable Because of Public Policy


In 2016, the Texas court of appeals in Austin had to decide if a will was voidable because of public policy. The testator had one child, a girl. Two days before he died, he executed a new will that disinherited his daughter. The daughter contested the will. Her principal theory was that her disinheritance by her father violated ” public policy” –namely Texas’s strong public policy against sexual abuse of children. As her basis for that theory, she alleged that her father had abused her sexually while she was a (more…)

Getting Someone To Make A Will May Be A Crime

 Texas Law

Getting someone to make a will may be a crime in Texas. In a 2015 case out of the Dallas Court of Appeals, a man was convicted of a crime for getting an elderly woman to make a will naming him as a beneficiary. After the woman died, he filed the will for probate. Those actions constituted a crime according to the court of appeals because they were done with criminal intent. The court stated that “If performed with the requisite criminal intent to deprive whoever would otherwise have taken (the deceased’s) property after her death, the conduct alleged in this indictment—causing (the deceased) to execute a will in his favor and then filing the will for probate—amounts to a criminal offense.” The court upheld a ten-year sentence.

Ordinary Wills

This case does not apply to someone who urges an elderly person to make a will. Everyone should be urged to make a will. In the case decided by the Dallas Court of Appeals, there was evidence that the man who was charged, who was not related to the deceased, talked her into making a will for his benefit while she was in the hospital during her last illness. The lady had a child, and her previous will named the child as her beneficiary.

Procuring a will may be a crime.

Can An Executor Or Trustee Go To Jail?

Can An Executor Or Trustee Go To Jail?

Can An Executor Or Trustee Go To Jail?

As with most legal questions, it depends.

Failure To Follow An Order

When a judge orders someone to do something and that person doesn’t do it, the judge can hold him in contempt and put him in jail.

Failure To Pay A Debt Of The Estate

In cases where an Executor or Trustee has been ordered to pay a debt out of the estate, he can’t be put in jail if he refuses because the Texas and U.S. constitutions prohibit putting someone in jail for a debt. It doesn’t mean that the Executor or Trustee doesn’t have to pay the debt, he does. It just means that the court will have to use another method to get the debt paid such as seizing assets rather than jail.

Failure To Distribute The Assets To A Beneficiary.

However, when an Executor or Trustee refuses an order of the judge to turn over estate assets to a beneficiary, he can be put in jail if he refuses even if the asset is money. The beneficiary owns the property in question. It is not a debt. Courts reason that the Executor or Trustee is holding the assets in trust for the rightful owner, the beneficiary. The critical difference is that the Executor or Trustee possesses the property of another but refuses to deliver it to the rightful owner, despite being ordered to do so. Since it is not a debt it is off to jail he goes if he refuses. 316 sw3 787.

Under the “slayer rule” can you inherit from someone you murdered if your are found incompetent?

Under the “slayer rule” can you inherit from someone you murdered if your are found incompetent?

The “slayer rule” is a rule that some states recognize prevents someone convicted of causing death from later profiting by inheriting from the deceased victim. Texas does not recognize the slayer rule except for insurance proceeds, as I’ve written before. In fact, Texas has a constitutional provision that states that a person’s inheritance rights can’t be denied because of a crime that he committed. But, Texas accomplishes the same result, but it requires that the heirs take some affirmative action.

In an article on, Bonnie Kraham, an attorney practicing elder law and estate planning with the Ettinger Law Firm in New York, wrote about the slayer law in New York and how it intertwined with the “Son of Sam” law that was passed to prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes. In the interesting article, Kraham talked about several possible loopholes and how the courts had dealt with them. One of those loopholes is set out in the title, e.g., what if you’re found not guilty by reason of insanity. Can you inherit then? What if you kill you mother-in-law who leaves everything to your wife then your wife dies? Can you inherit your mother-in-law’s property that way? Kraham points out that the courts found ways to apply the slayer rule to these cases even though they were not exactly slayer rule cases. The article is fascinating reading for this dark area of inheritance law.

In Texas, the other family members must file suit to prevent the slayer from inheriting. If your attorney is not familiar with Texas inheritance law and files suit under the slayer rule concept, you will find yourself quickly out of court.

Copyright by Robert Ray a Texas inheritance attorney. The foregoing information is general in nature and does not apply to every fact situation. If you are concerned about inheritance laws, inheritance rights, have a family inheritance dispute, a property dispute, or want information about contesting a will and need an inheritance lawyer, we can help. We are Texas inheritance lawyers and would love to learn about your case, and there is no fee for the initial consultation.


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