Who Inherits a Joint Bank Account in Texas

It is common for a parent to create a joint bank account with the intent that someone accesses the account to pay for their funeral or last expenses. Who owns this account once the parent dies? What about other bank accounts that are held jointly? Does the joint owner, surviving spouse or someone else inherit…Continue readingWho Inherits a Joint Bank Account in Texas

Nonresident Executor Subject to Texas Jurisdiction

Many courts shifted to online zoom hearings when the COVID virus situation started. This includes probate courts in Texas. This makes sense. Many probate hearings require witnesses. The witnesses are usually friends and acquaintances of the deceased. As with the deceased, generally, they are usually older. They may be more susceptible to have a strong…Continue readingNonresident Executor Subject to Texas Jurisdiction

Anti-Defamation Law Trumps Terms of Trust

There are laws that conflict with other laws. These conflicts are often due to competing policies. What may have been a good policy for one fact pattern, may not be a good policy given a slightly different fact pattern. The recent Marshall v. Marshall, Nos. 14-18-00094-CV, 14-18-00095-CV (Tex. App–Houston [14th]), case provides an example. The…Continue readingAnti-Defamation Law Trumps Terms of Trust

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…Continue readingThe “Discovery Rule” in Probate Disputes

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…Continue readingThe Measure of Damages in 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…Continue readingTime Limits for Texas Probate Disputes

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…Continue readingThe Term “Personal Property” in a Will Includes Bank Accounts

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…Continue readingDisputing Probate Court’s Family Settlement Agreement

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…Continue readingCan an Executor Who is Removed be Reappointed?

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…Continue readingProbate Disputes Involving Invalid Real Estate Transfers