Bradshaw v. Naumann

In Bradshaw v. Naumann, 528 S.W.2d 869 (Tex. Civ. App.--Austin 1975, writ dism'd), the plaintiff brought an action to cancel a deed executed by her parents, Ollie and Oscar Bradshaw, that reserved a life estate for themselves and conveyed the property to their son, to the exclusion of the plaintiff. Following Mr. Bradshaw's death several years later, Mrs. Bradshaw and the son granted an option to purchase a portion of the property to a third party. She thereafter executed a will in which she devised her entire estate to her son. Following Mrs. Bradshaw's death, the plaintiff claimed that Mr. Bradshaw had been under undue influence when he executed the deed and that Mrs. Bradshaw lacked the requisite mental capacity to execute the deed. The jury agreed with the plaintiff's allegations. On appeal, the judgment was reversed. Witness testimony offered concerning Mrs. Bradshaw several years after execution of the deed was that she was elderly, nearly blind, did not immediately recognize people she had known, was dirty, and had sores on her face and long toenails. Id. at 873. In addition, her house was dirty and unkempt. The appellate court determined that this evidence was of no probative value, because it related to a period years removed from the deed's execution and was not probative of Mrs. Bradshaw's mental capacity to make a deed years before. There was also testimony that, several months before executing the deed, Mrs. Bradshaw had been found locked in her house, lying on her bed fully-clothed, feeding chickens. Id. at 874. There was also testimony that she was ill and unstable. The court reasoned that "this conduct may be unconventional, even eccentric, and, to some, bizarre, but without more, related directly to business understanding and acumen, it has no probative value to show want of mental capacity to make a deed." Id.