Texas Judge Denies Willie Nelson’s Nephew’s Request Over Songwriting Icon Billy Joe Shaver’s Will

by Chris Haney
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A Texas judge recently denied a request from country music legend Willie Nelson’s nephew, Fred Fletcher, to dismiss a 2003 will from country songwriting icon Billy Joe Shaver. Fletcher’s motion states that a 2008 will from Shaver supersedes the one from five years prior, which would mean the songwriter’s estate goes to Fletcher.

County Court-at-Law Judge Vik Deivanayagam rejected Fletcher’s request to throw out the 2003 will. That led attorneys for Fletcher and Shaver’s nephew, Terry Dwayne Rogers, to assume that a McLennan County jury will now resolve the issue.

As of now, Deivanayagam’s ruling allows Rogers to enter Shaver’s 2003 will into probate proceedings. Deivanayagam is also set to rule on a similar motion from Rogers. Shaver’s nephew wants the courts to throw out Fletcher’s handwritten 2008 will. Supposedly, Shaver wrote it out 14 years ago in front of multiple witnesses, which leaves his estate to Fletcher.

Fletcher’s lawyer, Andy McSwain, spoke with local news station KWTX recently about the ongoing case. McSwain shared that his team expects a hearing on Rogers’ summary judgment motion soon. He also added they’re ready to prove that Billy Joe Shaver’s 2008 will is valid. Additionally, the outlet spoke to Rogers’ attorney, Whitney Fanning, who expects a jury to decide the fate of Shaver’s estate.

“If I am going to leave all of my worldly possessions to someone, I am going to leave it to my family. I am not going to leave it to some music director whose sole purpose is to make money. My client has a proper will left to his family members, which is how we do things. That is kind of the way it is done. We take care of our family rather than someone who is not connected,” Fanning said to the outlet.

Billy Joe Shaver’s Estate Value Undetermined by Both Sides

The lawyers for each side admit they’re not exactly sure about the current value of Billy Joe Shaver’s estate. However, the famous country music star still receives royalty checks stemming from his prolific songwriting career. He also owns a home in South Waco valued around $122,000, and the estate would include any vehicles, bank accounts, and “anything of value.”

Shaver supposedly created multiple wills over the years dating back to 2000. That’s led to the estate confusion following his October 2020 death at 81 years old. Willie Nelson’s nephew is now claiming to be the sole beneficiary. Fred Fletcher is a music producer who used to play drums in Shaver’s band. The songwriter’s 2008 will was supposedly witnessed by five other people. Shaver specifically wanted his estate and profits to go to Fletcher, according to the handwritten will.

“I want him to continue to administer all my music business and to keep all profits,” a copy of Shaver’s handwritten will reads.

During court proceedings, Fletcher’s lawyer told the judge that Billy Joe Shaver no longer wanted his nephew to inherit his estate. Instead, he preferred Fletcher to take over his estate and continue handling his music business.

However, at some point in 2009, Fletcher lost his original handwritten will from Shaver. He allegedly misplaced it when moving offices the next year, but another witness said Shaver kept the original. Rogers’ attorneys are arguing that if Fletcher doesn’t have the original will, it’s effectively null and void.

“Our position is this copy is not admissible as evidence,” Rogers’ lawyers stated. “Therefore, they have no case.”

Outsider.com