What happens if instead of signing his name, the testator just initials the document?
Texas courts have been lenient regarding the location and form of a “signature.” They have approved an X as a sufficient signature on an attested will. The most important factor is that the testator intended his mark to constitute his signature. A signature by initials executes a will if the instrument is testamentary in character and if the testator meant his initials to be his signature. 862 s.w.2d 8.
What are the requirements of a will in Texas
Texas requires that a will be in writing and signed by the testator or signed by another person on behalf of the testator and in the testator’s presence and under the testator’s direction.
Will contest in Texas
If someone is contesting a will in Texas and contends that the initials or the mark are not a sufficient signature, the issue at trial will be the testator’s intention when he initialed or put his mark on the document rather than whether or not the initials or the mark constitute a valid signature.
Will Contest in Texas are in remproceedings which means that notice to all the heirs is not required. It is up to each interested party to keep themselves apprised of the status of any probate case. Tennessee is also an in remstate as far as contesting a will is concerned.
Do All Heirs Have To Join A Will Contest in Texas?
A will contest may be brought by anyone interested party, and all other interested parties are free to join the contestant, join the proponent, or stand aloof. But, if they don’t join and there is a settlement agreement, they may be left out as stated by the Tennessee Supreme Court; and see E2016-02497-COA-R3-CV.. Those that join the will contest may settle and if they do so in good faith, the compromise of the will contest will not inure to the benefit of those heirs not participating. The heirs not involved in the suit may lose their inheritance unless they can show some form of bad faith by the parties to the suit. In 2017, a Pennsylvania Superior Court also held that an heir who did not participate in the will contest and was left out of a settlement agreement, could not do anything about it. The heir would have received his share if he had participated in the will contest but since he did not participate, he could not challenge the settlement that excluded him. 2620 EDA 2016.
What You Should Do
If someone you love has died and there is an inheritance dispute between the heirs, all heirs should participate in the proceeding. If an heir does not join, there is a chance that they will lose an inheritance that is rightfully theirs.
Tortiousinterference with inheritance rights is a tortwhere someone does something that has the effect of denying you an inheritance or gift that you should have received. It is a tort just as if someone runs a stop sign and injures you. Both of these actions are torts and you may be able to hold that other person liable for your damages.
It applies when a testator has been induced by tortiousmeans to make his first will or not to make it; and it applies also when he has been induced to change or remake it. It applies when a will is forged, altered or suppressed. It is well settled in Texas that “[a]ny intentional invasion of, or interference with, property, (more…)
The Kansas City Star newspaper reported an interesting story. A sixty-seven year old millionaire, Bill Van Note, was in the hospital on a ventilator after a late-night attack at his house. That attack remains unsolved. The man was rushed to the hospital. The daughter had a power of attorney for health care. She told the hospital to pull the plug. “So after discussion — it’s unclear how long — doctors shut off the ventilator and pulled the tube from their patient’s throat. Over several hours, Bill Van Note, who had been a prominent Liberty businessman, died, slowly.” Once it was discovered that the power of attorney for health care had been forged, the district attorney charged the daughter with murder. He also charged the two witnesses to the power of attorney with murder.
“Camden County Prosecutor Brian Keedy says Liz Van Note’s preparation of the document shows the premeditation required for first-degree murder. What killed her father, Keedy alleges, was being removed from life support.” The witnesses to the forged power of attorney were involved in the same scheme so they were charged also.
They same situation would apply to the execution of wills. If someone knows that a person is not mentally capable of executing a will but helps the person obtaining the will by being a witness to the will, they also might be charged with a crime. So, if someone you know asks you to witness a will, make sure the affair is on the up and up to avoid problems.
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. Please go to our main site www.texasinheritance.com and use the contact form to contact us today. We are Texas inheritance lawyers and would love to learn about your case and there is no fee for the initial consultation.
In a case decided in 2011, a testator had children from a prior marriage. A will was filed for probate leaving everything to his second wife. One of his children contested the will. During the contest, a family settlement agreement was reached. As part of the family settlement agreement, the will contest was dropped and the will was admitted to probate. Several years later, the daughter found out that one of the second wife’s children had forged the will with the help or knowledge of the second wife. She filed suit to set aside the forged will.
In upholding the trial court’s dismissal of the suit, the Court of Appeals said that the suit to set aside the will was not filed within the time required by the statute of limitationsand could not be brought even though the will was forged!
Knowing what to do
This case is another clear message from the courts: if you have questions about a will, you better act promptly or you won’t be able to question the will even if it is forged. This case also illustrates the necessity of knowing what cause of action needs to be filed and the consequences of filing the wrong cause of action. 10-09-00275-CV.