The emerging Texas cause of action for tortious interference with inheritance was discussed in a 2013 case from the San Antonio Court of Appeals.
- Cause of Action, Elements
In Estate of Valdez, the court confirmed the existence of the cause of action under Texas law and stated that
the elements are:
(1) that an interference with one’s property or property rights occurred;
(2) such interference was intentional and caused damage; and
(3) the interference was conducted with neither just cause nor legal excuse.
- Will Contest is not Tortious Interference
In Valdez, the proponent of a will sued a will contestant for tortious interference with inheritance rights. The
court held that filing a will contest is not tortious interference as a matter of law.
The court also noted that the Texas Probate Code (now the Texas Estates Code effective 1/1/2014)
specifically provides that “the filing or contesting in probate court of any pleading relating to a decedent’s estate does
not constitute tortious interference with inheritance of the estate.”
Tortious interference with inheritance is an expanding cause of action under Texas law, but it is not effective
against a person who files a will contest.