In In re Estate of Spiller, a party appealed an order admitting a will to probate and ordering the independent administrator to distribute the estate in accordance with a family settlement agreement. No. 04-15-00449-CV, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 6811 (Tex. App.—San Antonio June 29, 2016, no pet. history). Earlier in the case, there was a will contest on the basis of mental competence and undue influence. The parties then went to a hearing and announced that they had settled the dispute and read the family settlement agreement into the record. The parties then had disputes about what some of the terms of the settlement meant. One party filed a motion to enter a judgment based on the agreement, and the other party objected to the judgment stating that the agreement was not final. The trial court then entered an order based on the agreement.
The court of appeals reversed the order and held that it was void. The court held that a “party may revoke its consent to a settlement agreement at any time before judgment is rendered on the agreement.” Id. Further, a “judgment rendered after one of the parties revokes his consent is void.” Id. The court noted that the trial court stated that it approved the family settlement agreement and “will sign an order” admitting the will to probate in accordance with the agreement. The court of appeals held that in using the future term “will,” the trial court expressed an intention to render the order in the future. Id. The court concluded:
Willman, however, revoked his consent to the family settlement agreement before any order was subsequently rendered. Because the trial court rendered the order admitting the 2006 will to probate and ordering the distribution of the estate in accordance with the family settlement agreement after Willman revoked his consent to the family settlement agreement, the trial court’s order is void.
The court of appeals noted that whether the family settlement agreement was an enforceable contract and would support a breach of contract claim was not before the court. Id. (citing S & A Rest. Corp. v. Leal, 892 S.W.2d 855, 857 n.1 (Tex. 1995) (noting party revoking consent to settlement agreement could be sued for breach of the settlement agreement)). Accordingly, on remand, the party seeking to enforce the agreement can file a breach of contract claim and attempt to enforce the agreement after an adjudication of that claim.