In the Estate of Ward

No. 10-11-00003-CV, 2011 Tex. App. LEXIS 6811 (App. Aug. 24, 2011)



In reviewing a factual sufficiency challenge to an adverse jury finding on which the other party had the burden of proof, an appellate court will consider all of the evidence in the record, both in support of and contrary to the finding. The appellate court will set aside the trial court's finding only if it is so contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence as to be clearly wrong and manifestly unjust. 


The decedent's daughter filed an action for a declaration as to the rights of the parties under a purported deed. She also alleged that her deceased mother's will was executed as the result of undue influence exerted by the mother's husband. A jury determined that the decedent had signed a deed to the family farm and delivered it to the daughter. The jury also found that the husband exerted undue influence over the decedent in the execution of her will. The case was appealed to the Court of Appeals of Texas.


Did the decedent execute her will under undue influence?




The court found that there was legally sufficient evidence to support the finding that the husband exerted undue influence over the decedent, at a time when her health and mental capabilities were failing, to subvert her intention to give the family farm to the daughter and that the provisions of the will bequeathing the family farm to the husband would not have happened but for his undue influence. Further, there was sufficient evidence to indicate that the decedent, as grantor, handwrote a deed conveying the family farm to the daughter, the grantee; that it was the decedent's intent that the daughter receive the farm; and that the decedent delivered the deed to the daughter under Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 5.021 (2004).

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