In Pense v. Bennett, the ward in a guardianship proceeding sued to invalidate the sale of real property from a trust created for his benefit to an affiliate of the trustee. No. 06-20-00030-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 8002 (Tex. App.—Texarkana October 8, 2020, no pet.). The trial court granted summary judgment for the trustee, held that the sale was effective, but expressly refused to rule on a breach of fiduciary duty claim based on the transaction as it was pending in another proceeding. The ward appealed.

The court of appeals explained how the guardian had sought and obtained court approval for the creation of a management trust and the transfer of real property from the guardianship estate to the new trust. The trustee of that trust had the express authority to sell trust property:

Article VIII of the Trust Instrument lists the powers of the trustee. And, “[w]here the language of the trust instrument is unambiguous and expresses the intentions of the maker, the trustee’s powers are conferred by the instrument and neither the court nor the trustee can add or take away such power.” As pertinent here, the Trust Instrument authorized the trustee to: “[P]artition, exchange, release, convey or assign any right, title or interest of the trust in any real estate or personal property owned by the trust”; “[S]ell, exchange, alter, mortgage, pledge or otherwise dispose of trust property”; “[E]xecute and deliver any deeds, conveyances, assignments, leases, contracts, stock or security transfer powers, or any other written instrument of any character appropriate to any of the powers or duties herein conferred on the Trustee”; and “[H]old title to investments in the name of the Trustee or a nominee.”

In addition to these powers specified in the Trust Instrument, the Texas Trust Code authorizes “a trustee [to] exercise any powers . . . that are necessary or appropriate to carry out the purpose of the trust.” Those powers include the power to “contract to sell, sell and convey, or grant an option to sell real or personal property at public auction or private sale for cash or for credit or for part cash and part credit, with or without security.”


Continue Reading Court Holds That A Trustee Had The Power To Sell Trust Property To An Affiliate, Though Such An Act May Be In Breach Of A Duty

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In Duncan v. O’Shea, three co-trustees brought a declaratory judgment action against a fourth co-trustee, seeking a declaration that the sale of trust real property was valid over the objection of the fourth co-trustee. No. 07-19-00085-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS

In Hanschen v. Hanschen, a trustee challenged a default judgment. No. 05-19-01134-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 4075 (Tex. App.—Dallas May 28, 2020, no pet. history). The family sued the trustee in his personal capacity and in his capacity as trustee for breaching fiduciary duties. While the trustee was in Texas, the family served him

In In the Estate of Nicholas, the temporary administrator of an estate and the decedent’s mother filed a Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 202 petition concerning a shootout at a residence by the City of Houston Police Department. No. 14-19-00716-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 2532 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] March 26, 2020, no pet.

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 In the Estate of Brazda, the trial court found an administrator guilty of neglecting to timely distribute the property and ordered the administrator to pay one of the heir’s damages for the neglect. No. 01-18-00324-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 5924 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] July 11, 2019, no pet. history). The administrator moved for reconsideration of the damages order, the trial court later entered written orders reconsidering and removing the personal liability against the administrator. The complaining heir appealed. The court of appeals held that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter the orders reconsidering and removing the damages against the administrator because the original order awarding the damages was final and appealable in its own right and because the trial court lost plenary power over that order before the time that it entered the written reconsideration orders.

Continue Reading Trial Court Lacked Jurisdiction To Alter Its Previous Probate Order, and An Administrator Waived Any Challenge To A Damages Finding

In In re Estate of Daniels, after the decedent’s death, his wife and his other heirs filed competing applications for independent administration of his estate. No. 06-18-00049-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 2905 (Tex. App.—Texarkana April 11, 2019). After the homestead property was set aside and the temporary administrator conveyed the interests in that property

In Chabot v. Estate of Sullivan, the decedent’s attorney probated a holographic will as a muniment of title. No. 03-17-00865-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 2145 (Tex. App.—Austin March 20, 2019, no pet.). A claimant then asserted a claim that the decedent sexually abused him. The tort claimant and the decedent’s sister filed will contests.

In Barcroft v. Walton, a statutory probate court entered sanctions, struck a defendant’s pleadings, and entered a default judgment against a defendant in a trust case. No. 02-16-00110-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 8541 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth September 7, 2017, no pet. history). The defendant appealed on multiple grounds, and the court of appeals first

In The Management Trust of Norsworthy, the court reviewed a trustee’s accountings and petition for approval to enter into an agreement with the beneficiary’s wife to make regular distributions to her for certain recurring expenses. No. 05-16-00683-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 1335 (Tex. App.—Dallas February 15, 2017, no pet.). Thereafter, the beneficiary’s wife attempted