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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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