In In the Estate of Setser, the decedent signed a 1993 will naming his daughter as the sole beneficiary. No. 01-15-00855-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 937 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] February 2, 2017, no pet. history). Later, in 2014, he signed a hand-written will naming his good friend and roommate Heim as the sole beneficiary of his estate. This 2014 will stated: “I, Frankie Lee Setser will my property to Charles Edward Heim, 2748 County Road 32, Angleton, Texas 77515-7749.” That was it. The trial court rejected this will as being too conclusory and vague to be operable and admitted the 1993 will to probate. Heim appealed.
The court of appeals reversed, holding that the will was sufficiently written. After discussing the standards for interpreting wills, the court discussed hand-written wills:
A handwritten will is made with the requisite formalities so long as it is in the testator’s handwriting and signed by him. The will need not be dated; accordingly, if a date appears on the document it need not be in the testator’s hand. Nor does the will need to name an executor or other personal representative of the estate in order to be valid. Handwritten wills may be very brief and informal and nonetheless be valid. A will need not contain an express revocation clause in order to revoke a prior one. Absent a revocation clause, a new will impliedly revokes a prior one to the extent of any inconsistency. If it makes a contrary disposition of the testator’s entire estate, the new will completely revokes the prior one. Revocation is usually but not always a question of fact. Once prima facie proof of the possibility of revocation is introduced, the proponent of a prior will has the burden to prove that it was not revoked.
The court of appeals noted that the trial court reasoned that Setser’s use of the term “property” without qualification rendered the 2014 will too vague or ambiguous to enforce. The court disagreed and held that, when used without qualification, the term “property” is unambiguous. “When used in a will, an unqualified reference to “property” encompasses everything of exchangeable value that the testator owned. ‘Property’ is synonymous with ‘estate’ and includes assets of every category.” Id. Therefore, the court concluded:
As the ordinary meaning of “property” is well-settled and Setser used that term without restriction in his handwritten 2014 will, the will is susceptible to only one interpretation—it unambiguously bequeaths all of Setser’s property to Heim. Apart from the parties’ dispute about the meaning of “property,” it is undisputed that Setser’s will effected an entirely different disposition of his estate than his prior 1993 will, inasmuch as the 2014 will bequeathed his property to Heim and the 1993 will bequeathed it to Boggs. Thus, the 2014 will impliedly revoked the 1993 will as a matter of law. As Boggs does not challenge the trial court’s finding that the 2014 will was made with the requisite formalities and the record contains some evidence that it was made with the requisite formalities, we conclude that the trial court erred by not admitting Setser’s handwritten 2014 will to probate instead of his prior 1993 will.
Id. The court reversed and rendered that the 2014 will should be admitted to probate.