A. Introduction

It is not uncommon for beneficiaries to sue a trustee for actions that the beneficiaries had knowledge of but where they failed to object to that conduct for a period of time. In this circumstance, the trustee may want to raise certain equitable defenses to those claims, such as laches, ratification, waiver, and estoppel. Equitable defenses are appropriate for breach of fiduciary duty claims as fiduciary relationships originate in equity. At the core of these equitable defenses is the concept that a party should not be allowed to act inconsistently: have knowledge of conduct and fail to object to it for a period of time (thereby tacitly agreeing to the conduct) and then later raising claims against the trustee for the same conduct.
Continue Reading Use Of Equitable Defenses In Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Litigation

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In In the Estate of Johnson, a decedent’s daughter filed a will contest after accepting over $146,000 from the estate. No. 05-18-01193-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 9646 (Tex. App.—Dallas November 4, 2019, no pet.). The executrix filed a motion in limine challenging the daughter’s standing and asked the trial court to dismiss the will contest, which the trial court did. The daughter appealed.

The court of appeals first addressed whether the daughter had standing to file a will contest. The court held that “[d]evisees and heirs-at-law are interested persons.” Id. (citing Tex. Est. Code § 20.018). The court concluded:

Though Lisa Jo claims that Tia did not meet this burden because she failed to introduce the Will into evidence with her petition, we assume the trial court took judicial notice of the Will and its contents, as well as the inventory, which was in the trial court’s files. Because the face of the Will established Tia’s standing as a devisee and an heir-at-law, Tia satisfied her threshold burden.

Id. The court then reviewed the estoppel defense arising from the daughter’s acceptance of estate assets. The court reviewed the law and its own precedent on estoppel in this context:
Continue Reading Court Holds That Will Contestant Was Not Estopped From Challenging The Will Due To Accepting Assets

In In re Newman, a woman appealed a trial court’s order regarding admitting her husband’s will and the conduct of her step-son as executor. No. 04-17-00209-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 4249 (Tex. App.—San Antonio June 13, 2018, no pet. history). She made the mistake of representing herself in the appeal. The court of appeals

In In re Estate of Roach, a trial court removed an executor for multiple grounds, including: (1) Texas Estates Code Section 404.0035(b)(5), which authorizes removal when an independent executor becomes incapable of properly performing his fiduciary duties due to a material conflict of interest, and (2) Section 404.0035(b)(3), which authorizes removal when an independent

In Macias v. Gomez, a client sued his attorney for breach of fiduciary duty arising from the attorney’s trust later suing the client. No. 13-14-00017-CV, 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 12967 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi December 29, 2015, no pet. history). The client paid the attorney by transferring a one percent interest in a business to