What to do if an heir stipulates something that goes against a handwritten amendment to a Will?

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What to do if an heir stipulates something that goes against a handwritten amendment to a Will?

My brother, sister and I inherited our dad’s land in TX. Neither one wanted their part so I am buying their portions. My dad wrote a handwritten addition to his Will which was discovered later. It stated that the long-time caretaker gets a small piece of the land for her service. My sister disliked this person and wrote up a stipulation that I cannot give the caretaker this land. If I do this, I will lose the land I bought from them, and it will all go back to them or their heirs. My name was not on the “warranty deed”/stipulation. I am 1/3 owner, and disagree with the stipulation.What can I do?

Asked on August 2, 2011 Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) Your father's handwritten stipulation may very well not be enforceable--wills may be modified or changed, but only if done and witnessed in the proper way, and usually, simply writing in a handwritten addition, is not good enough. If you haven't already, you might bring the will to a trusts and estates attorney to see if this stipulation is in fact enforceable.

2) If you have already bought the land from your sister or already have an agreement/contract with her to buy it, she cannot now add another term or condition; that is, if the deal is agreed to or consummated, it has to go through on the terms that had already been negotiated. In that case, your sister can certanly request you don't give or sell the land to the caretaker, but she can't enforce her wishes. A stipulation added unilaterally after the fact by one party is generally not enforceable.

3) If you have not yet already bought the land and also have not yet executed an agreement with your sister, she may make this a condition of sale--she could write into the contract, for example, that in buying the land, you agree  to not convey any, in any fashion, to the caretaker. Your choice then would be to agree to the condition and buy the land; or not agree and walk away from the sale.


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