Harold Simmons died December 28, 2013, just three weeks after signing his will. It is curious to me that an 82-year-old billionaire would wait that long to get his will squared away. It also seems curious to a probate lawyer friend of mine who told me that, for a variety of reasons, wills in Texas are nearly always public record. Maybe not even nearly always. It might be always. My friend couldn’t think of a single case in which a will was sealed. Yet Harold’s widow, Annette, is seeking to have his last wishes kept private. For now, they are under temporary seal. The probate attorney I talked to said that Annette’s argument that she is “genuinely concerned for her privacy, safety, and security as well as the security of the assets of the Estate” doesn’t make much sense. Everyone knows Harold was a rich man. Everyone knows Annette is a wealthy widow. It is telling that her lawyers, in her petition, do not cite another case in which a will has been sealed.
According to this, “The hearing on the Motion to Seal Court Records will be held in open court and any person may intervene and be heard concerning the sealing of the court records identified in the Motion to Seal Court Records.” The hearing will happen January 29 at 9 a.m. in Probate Court No. 3, 500 Main Street. I would think that there’s a probate attorney somewhere who would want to address the court, argue that a bad precedent could be set with this case, that Harold’s will shouldn’t be treated any differently than, say, Mickey Mantle’s.