Texas Court of Appeals

In Bethany v. Bethany, a party filed a motion to remove his brother as executor of their mother’s estate. No. 03-19-00532-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 2350 (Tex. App.—Austin March 20, 2020, no pet.). The movant also sought costs and expenses incurred by him incident to removal, including reasonable attorney’s fees. In his response to

Texas has recently had two opinions that seemingly take opposite views on whether a contingent remainder beneficiary has standing to sue a trustee for trust administration issue.

In In re Estate of Little, a settlor of a revocable trust withdrew trust assets and deposited them into an account with rights of survivorship with one child as the beneficiary. No. 05-18-00704-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 7355 (Tex. App.—Dallas August 20, 2019, pet. denied). His other children, who were beneficiaries of the revocable trust, sued the non-settlor co-trustee for allowing that to happen. The trial court granted summary judgment for the co-trustee, and the beneficiaries appealed.

The court of appeals first held that the beneficiaries had standing to bring their claims. The co-trustee argued that as contingent beneficiaries of a revocable trust, the beneficiaries had no standing to complain about what the settlor chose to do with his money during his lifetime. The court of appeals disagreed with this argument:
Continue Reading Texas Courts Conflict On Whether Contingent Remainder Beneficiaries Have Standing To Assert Claims Regarding Trust Administration

In In the Estate of Mendoza, a decedent’s son’s children filed a petition claiming their entitlement to their father’s beneficial interest in a trust created under the decedent’s will. No. 04-19-00129-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 1845 (Tex. App.—San Antonio March 4, 2020, no pet. history). The son had predeceased the decedent. The decedent’s daughters moved for summary judgment on the sole ground that a dead person could not be a beneficiary of a trust. The trial court granted the daughters’ summary judgment motion. The son’s children appealed.

The court of appeals reversed the summary judgment, holding that the mere fact that the decedent’s son predeceased the decedent did not establish the son’s beneficial interest in the trust created under the decedent’s will lapsed as a matter of law. The daughters argued that a dead person cannot be a beneficiary of a trust and cited to Longoria v. Lasater, 292 S.W.3d 156, 167 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2009, pet. denied) and Section 112, comment f of the Restatement (Second) of Trusts. However, the court of appeals held that the daughters ignored the difference between an inter vivos trust, which was the type of trust analyzed in Longoria, and a testamentary trust. The court cited to Section 112, comment f, of the Restatement (Second) of Trusts:
Continue Reading Court Holds That A Deceased Testamentary Trust Beneficiary Can Still Be A Beneficiary

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In UPS Ground Freight, Inc. v. Trotter, parties filed claims against an estate representative based on a car accident in the county where the estate was being administered. No. 12-19-00135-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 1127 (Tex. App.—Tyler February 10,

In In re Estate of Debra E. Hunt v. Arabia Vargas, a trial court granted summary judgment interpreting a will to devise a large share of the testatrix’s personal property to her life partner. No. 01-19-00216-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 1036 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] February 6, 2020, no pet. history). The will stated:

In In re Jones, parties filed a mandamus proceeding to challenge the trial court’s disqualification of their attorney. No. 12-19-00354-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 11267 (Tex. App.—Tyler December 31, 2019, original opinion). An attorney sent an email to the beneficiary of the estate, stating that the attorney for estate was a bad lawyer and

In In the Estate of Mahaffey, a testatrix executed a new will nine days before she died of cancer. No. 04-19-00122-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 11171 (Tex. App.—San Antonio December 27, 2019, no pet. history). A niece offered the new will for probate. The new will cut out one of the testatrix’s sisters, and

In In re Estate of Klutts, a son held his mother’s power of attorney when he assisted in securing a new 2008 will, which enhanced his share of the estate. No. 02-18-00356-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 11063 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth December 19, 2019, no pet. history). Siblings attempted to probate an earlier will and

In Hawes v. Peden, a client sued a deceased attorney’s estate and her law firm in district court due to the attorney failing to finish the representation before her death. No. 06-19-00053-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 10841 (Tex. App.—Texarkana December 16, 2019, no pet. history). The law firm filed a plea to the jurisdiction,

In Lavizadeh v. Moghadam, a trustee purchased real estate and then had a dispute with a guarantor. No. 05-18-00955-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 10835 (Tex. App.—Dallas December 13, 2019, no pet. history). The trial court ruled against the trustee, and the trustee objected to the failure to have a jury trial. The trial court overruled that objection, and the trustee appealed. The court of appeals first held that the trustee waived any issue on the procedure by expressly agreeing to same:

During the hearing conducted prior to jury selection, the Trust’s counsel initially stated “for the record that we’re here on a jury trial setting” and he believed “factual issues [existed] that may need to be presented to the jury. . .”, however, he subsequently agreed to Moghadam’s counsel’s proposal to stipulate all exhibits into evidence. More specifically, the Trust agreed, “it would be appropriate” to have a “summary trial by the Judge on those issues, and then if we need a jury on a fact issue . . . “ the parties would return to court for further proceedings. Following this exchange and an off-the-record discussion, the Trust offered 18 exhibits into evidence, and the court admitted them. Moghadam’s exhibits were likewise deemed admitted at the same time although submitted electronically a few days later. We conclude the Trust’s agreement with this procedure waived any objection to the court’s refusal to submit any issues to a jury.

Id. The court also held that any failure to provide a jury trial was harmless as there were no questions of fact: “The right to a jury trial attaches only when controverted questions of fact exist.” Id.
Continue Reading Court Rules Against Trustee’s Right to a Jury Trial Where the Trustee Agreed To A Summary Proceeding