Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF Elaine Eisele ADAMS, Deceased
the 216th Judicial District Court, Gillespie County, Texas
Trial Court No. 14997 Honorable N. Keith Williams, Judge
Sitting: Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice Luz Elena D. Chapa,
Justice Irene Rios, Justice.
Allen Adams appeals the trial court's order admitting
Elaine Eisele Adams's last will and testament and first
codicil to her last will and testament to probate. Duane
contends the trial court erred in concluding Elaine's
handwritten letter to her attorney dated September 21, 2015
was not admissible to probate as a codicil because: (1) the
appellees, Kara Armes and Justin Seitz, judicially admitted
the letter indicated Elaine's wish to distribute her
entire estate to Duane; and (2) the letter was written with
testamentary intent. We affirm the trial court's order.
passed away on February 6, 2017. Both her husband and her
daughter predeceased her. Duane is Elaine's son, and Kara
and Justin are the children of Elaine's daughter.
4, 2017, Kara and Justin filed an application to probate
Elaine's last will and testament dated November 28, 1994,
and the first codicil to the will dated June 5, 2015. Duane
filed an opposition to the application asserting the will and
codicil were modified by a letter Elaine wrote to her
attorney dated September 21, 2015. Kara and Justin filed a
contest to the probate of the September 21, 2015 letter
asserting it was not executed with testamentary intent.
September 22, 2017, the trial court held a hearing on the
application, opposition, and contest. At the hearing, the
parties stipulated the will and first codicil were admissible
to probate. The parties also stipulated the September 21,
2015 letter was in Elaine's handwriting and signed by
her; however, Kara and Justin continued to argue the letter
was not executed with testamentary intent. The letter stated:
I received your letter today.
According to my will Sec 4:3 Either will may be revoked at
any time at the sole discretion of the maker of same.
When you wrote the codicil for me making Duane the inheritor
of all my possessions at the time of my death, I thought that
was all that was necessary.
reviewing the letter, the trial court concluded it was not
written with testamentary intent, reasoning:
In my book, without question, this does not have any proof of
testamentary intent. There's no indication she intended
this to be her will. For one thing, there's a couple of
mistakes in there. She says she understood it may be revoked.
She didn't say she wants to revoke a will, her will. She
said, when you wrote the codicil for me making Duane the
inheriter [sic] of all my possessions, clearly the codicil
does not make Duane the inheriter [sic] of all her
possessions. So that's a genuine mistake of understanding
on her part. And under this case law, just - just, for
example, very specifically in the Schiwetz case it says,
instructions or directions to attorneys to prepare a new will
or codicil to carry out the designated changes are not
themselves intended to be wills or codicils.
So the Court finds that this letter from Ms. Adams to Mr.
Sauer does not have the requisite testamentary intent and
should not be - shall not be construed in any form or fashion
to be a - an addendum, a codicil, or any - have any effect ...