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Will Contest Case Study: Bedell Part 1

Contesting a Will in San AntonioCase Study: Bedell Part 1

Contesting a will in San Antonio is needed when someone questions the validity of a loved one’s will. Challenging a will is difficult because the burden of proof is on the will proponent. The case below illustrates the process of a will contest case in San Antonio courts. This case study will be broken down into 6 blogs throughout the next few weeks due to its length.

Bedell San Antonio Will Contest Case

“And without question, one of the most exceptionally unusual wills we’ve ever had.”
—Trial Judge

At issue in this particular will contest, San Antonio trust and estate lawyer Jimmy Carter established during trial that Appellant did not meet her burden to prove that the July 7, 2005 document was qualified to be admitted to probate as a will that revoked an earlier June 17, 2003 will. This article contains excerpts from publicly available briefs filed with the Fourth Court of Appeals by appellate attorneys, Rob Ramsey and Jimmy Carter. The Court of Appeals affirmed the will contest trial court’s judgment successfully handled to final judgment by San Antonio estate lawyer Jimmy Carter.

View Final Court Opinion

Bedell Statement of Facts for Will Contest

The facts of this will contest and published opinion by the Fourth Court of Appeals are that Wade R. Bedell, Jr., deceased (“Wade”), was 87 years old on July 7, 2005, the date that Deborah Bedell (“Deborah”), his 52-year-old caretaker-turned-wife, claimed he revoked his June 17, 2003 (the 2003 Will) will by executing a new one.

The 2003 will left Wade’s house to his daughters, Robyn Zalewa and her sister, whereas the 2005 document, which Deborah sought to probate, left this property to her.

In contrast to the 2003 will, which was drafted by Wade’s attorney, entirely typewritten, and self-proved, the 2005 document was partially typewritten and partially handwritten, then enlarged at a copy shop because Wade’s eyesight was too weak to see it otherwise.

“It looks like you’re reading a newspaper every time you pick [it] up,” Robyn’s attorney observed, “because it’s just such a big document.”

Will Handwriting Discrepancies

In addition to its unusual size, this document was riddled with handwritten interlineations. “So,” the trial court told Deborah’s attorney, “here’s a problem.” “Yes,” her counsel conceded.

“[I]t appears that [he] used both a black pen at one time and a red pen at another time,” the judge noted. “And signed it blue ink. . . . But here’s the big change,” the trial court observed: “Deborah gets—I can’t even see what she previously had here. And then he changed it twice, once in black and once in red.”

“[T]hat’s a big deal,” said the judge. “That one is a big deal.”

In addition to the handwritten interlineations, even some of the typing appeared to have been interlineated, because it was out of line with the rest of the text.

“It’s disturbing,” said the trial court. “You can’t even read the interlineations.” But the interlineations were not the only problem. And, this ultimately created a new will contest lawsuit in San Antonio.

Will Contest Case Study: Bedell Part 2

Next week we will continue this Bedell will contest case by going over other arguments brought up during the case, including the witnesses, a crucial part of winning a will contest case in San Antonio.

 

James Carter | Will Contest Lawyer San Antonio

James W. Carter

Author
James Carter practices law in the areas of probate, trust, and real estate litigation at Langley & Banack’s San Antonio location. Mr. Carter is known as a strong fiduciary litigation attorney with a proven track record in trying complex will contest cases. The San Antonio Business Journal presented Mr. Carter the Outstanding Lawyer Award in 2016, and he is also AV-rated “Preeminent” by Martindale-Hubbell. Mr. Carter is a frequent speaker and author on matters involving Texas probate, estate, and trust litigation.

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