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Undue Influence Found

The Tyler Court of Appeals recently upheld an undue influence finding that denied the probate of a will.

Case Facts: The testator was terminally ill with congestive heart failure and pneumonia, and the will was signed less than six weeks before the death. A non-relative of the testator “swooped in,” befriended the testator, and “froze out” the testator’s family. The will made the friend the sole beneficiary, to the complete exclusion of the family.

The testator had never had a will. With assistance from the friend, an attorney prepared a one page will and emailed it to the testator’s home computer. The friend printed it out, wrote in the date, and presented it for signature. The friend and her husband were both present, but none of the testator’s family was present or invited.

Trial Court Finding: The case was tried in Henderson County to a judge without a jury. The trial court found undue influence, refused to probate the will, and appointed the testator’s daughter as independent admin…
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The Differences Between a Trademark and Copyright

A trademark and copyright are each different types of intellectual property protection, which aim to prevent unauthorized use. Though similar, each protects a varying type of asset. Companies have the right to pursue legal action against any party or individual who uses their intellectual property without permission—as this is illegal.
What does intellectual property mean? To clarify, intellectual property includes works, blueprints, developments, graphics, or designs that were created or are owned by a corporation or business. This can be all written documents or artistic works such as logos.
What do copyrights and trademarks protect? As stated above, while both offer intellectual property protection, they protect different types of assets. If you are a musician, author, filmmaker or similar artist then you will want to choose copyright to protect your work. Copyright is geared toward literary and artistic works, such as books and videos.
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Probate Dispute News: Aretha Franklin’s Holographic Will, by Steve Spitzer

Aretha Franklin’s legendary singing career spanned five-plus decades. The “Queen of Soul” made the most appearances on the Billboard charts of any female performer ever. She died from pancreatic cancer in August of 2018 at age 76.
1. Probate CaseIt was initially thought that Franklin died without a will. A niece, Sabrina Owens, was appointed as the administrator of the estate, which is pending in a Detroit suburb. Earlier this month, Owens was searching Franklin’s home and discovered three handwritten wills.
Two wills from 2010 were found inside a locked cabinet. One from 2014 was found in a spiral bound notebook under the cushions of a couch. The wills are difficult to read, are disorganized and look like rough drafts. Words are crossed out and are written in the margins. The primary beneficiaries are Franklin’s four sons.
2. Disputed IssuesThe four sons have been unable to reach an agreement about the validity of the wills. Owens has filed a petition to have the court rule on the valid…

6 Ways to Prepare for a Business Lawsuit

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Here are 6 tips you need to know before you or your company gets into a business lawsuit:
1. Limit your written communication with the other party.
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Who Stole From J.R.?

Actor Larry Hagman was famous for his role as oil tycoon J.R. Ewing on the Dallas TV series that aired from 1978 until 1991. Hagman passed away in 2012 at age 81, and his lawyers have alleged that jewelry owned by his estate was stolen by a relative.
Missing Jewelry: The jewelry was originally owned by Hagman’s mother, Mary Martin, who was a well-known actress recognized for playing the lead role in The Sound of Music. Martin was a native Texan and so was Hagman. Hagman was born in Fort Worth, graduated from Weatherford High School, died in Dallas and had his ashes scattered at Southfork Ranch near Dallas, where the TV series was filmed. Hagman’s estate alleges that the jewelry was given to Hagman by his mother and that a granddaughter of Hagman’s took the jewelry and has refused to give it back. The granddaughter claims that the jewelry was given to her by an unidentified family member.
Legal Arguments: Ownership of personal property such as the Hagman jewelry often involves little …