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Probate Litigation

The “Discovery Rule” in Probate Disputes


There are some strict deadlines for contesting a will in Texas. The will contest generally has to be filed within two years of the time the will is admitted to probate. What happens if one of the parties hides the existence of the will and secretly probates the will? What if they make statements to […]

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Probate Law Blog Probate Litigation

The Measure of Damages in Probate Litigation


An executor has a fiduciary duty as to the beneficiaries of a probate estate. If they breach this duty, the beneficiaries still have to establish the amount of any damages. If the damage is the loss of property, the measure of damages is the fair market value of the property that was lost. This raises […]

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Probate Law Blog Probate Litigation

Time Limits for Texas Probate Disputes


There are a number of deadlines that apply in probate disputes. These deadlines are strict given the policy for having finality with probate matters. The recent Watson v. Schrader, No. 11-18-00064-CV (Tex. App. [11th Dist.]–2020) case provides an example. Facts & Procedural History The dispute involved wills executed in 1995 and a family trust created […]

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Probate Law Blog Probate Litigation

The Term “Personal Property” in a Will Includes Bank Accounts


When a loved one dies, the surviving family members often find that the decedent’s will included terms that they do not agree with. This may be due to family dynamics, a sense of entitlement, or simply a differing view of who should inherit. These situations often lead to probate disputes. The In re Estate of […]

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Probate Law Blog Probate Litigation

Disputing Probate Court’s Family Settlement Agreement


Probate disputes are often resolved using family settlement agreements. These agreements can avoid the costs and delays of full will contests. But they can also lead to additional disputes. The Locasico v. Mongrain, No. 07-18-00280-CV (Tex. App.–7th Dist. 2019) case provides an example of a dispute involving a family settlement agreement in probate court. Facts […]

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Probate Law Blog Probate Litigation

Can an Executor Who is Removed be Reappointed?


Texas probate courts have broad powers that can be used to protect estates. This includes the power to remove the executor for the estate. But what if the executor did not want to be removed? What remedies do they have? The Estate of Skima, No. 05-18-01288-CV (Ct. App.–5th Dist [Dallas]), case provides an opportunity to […]

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Probate Law Blog Probate Litigation

Probate Disputes Involving Invalid Real Estate Transfers


Probate disputes often involve wills that intentionally omit or fail to provide for one or more children. The probate courts provide a forum for resolving these disputes. But the omitted children may not want to deal with the probate process. For example, they may just file deeds to transfer the decedent’s real estate to themselves […]

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Probate Law Blog Probate Litigation

Texas Probate: Liability for Failing to Make Distribution


The person who serves as the personal representative in a Texas probate can be personally liable for certain actions or omissions. This is why many personal representatives opt for a dependent administration. But the personal representative can even be personally liable in a dependent administration. The recent Estate of Brazda, No. 01-18-00324-CV (Tex. App. [Houston […]

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Probate Law Blog Probate Litigation

Appointing a Receiver to Sell Jointly Owned Property


When co-owners of property are at odds over the property, it may be necessary to have a court appoint a receiver to manage and/or sell the property. This remedy isn’t always available, as evidenced by the In re Estate of Martinez, No. 01-18-00217-CV (Tex. Ct. App.–Houston 2019) case.

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Probate Law Blog Probate Litigation

Challenging Probate Court’s Order to Settle Lawsuits


If a probate court appoints a temporary administrator and approves a settlement for outstanding lawsuits against the estate, heirs with an interest in the estate may have limited options for challenging the decision to settle the lawsuit. The Chabot v. Estate of Sullivan, No. 03-17-00865-CV (Tex. App.-3d Dist [Austin] – 2019), case provides an example.