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Knives Out, Movie Review

An Estate probte lawyer in Houston.

Will Contests and Estate Probate Law

  “Knives Out” great move and 5 stars for being True to Estate Laws or at least according to Texas Estate Code and probate law.

I am an estate probate litigator in Houston, Texas who does mostly Will Contests which are sometimes referred to as Will Challenges.  For fun, sometimes  I review books and movies related to Estate and Probate matters including Will Contests.   As for the movie, “Knives Out”, is pretty dead on as far as I am concerned in being true to estate law.

For starters, yes you can leave your estate to anyone you chose including your domestic help or neighbor or whoever such as Christopher Plumber did in the movie by giving his entire estate to “Marta” or Ana de Armas in “Knives Out” when character, the nurse, got the entire estate according to the Will.  And true form, yes estate gifts such as these often lead to a Will Contest or Estate Challenge by the family. 

One of my biggest gripes in movies is this concept that a “reading of the Will” is legally necessary part of probate. It maybe good form but is it often is never part of the probate process and has no legal impact on the matter. As stated, the “reading of the Will” is not legally necessary and to this movies’ credit it, this was even stated by the estate attorney in “Knives Out”.   The movie also correctly went over the legal grounds to challenge a Will.   Again, here the movie was dead on, as you can challenge a Will on following grounds of Lacking Capacity or Undue Influence. There is also forgery & Fraud.  

Finally, yes the “Slayer Rule” is a real thing.  If you are convicted of killing someone, per Slayer Rule you are barred from being the beneficiary of the Estate whether you are in the Will or an intestate heir.  The Slayer rule in Texas treats the killer as if they pre-deceased the decedent  In other words, the Slayer Rule protects against those who would benefit from the killer of the decedent dying. 








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