In Estate of Long, the plaintiff sued trustees and alleged that she was the only child of the decedent and asserted a cause of action for a will contest and a cause of action for a declaratory judgment action in which she requested the trial court to declare (a) that the residuary clause of the will lapsed and (b) that the decedent’s residuary estate passed via intestacy to her. No. 06-23-00025-CV, 2023 Tex. App. LEXIS 4313 (Tex. App.—Texarkana June 20, 2023, no pet. history). The trial court granted the plaintiff a motion for summary judgment, denied the trustees’ motion for summary judgment, and construed the will to mean that the entire residue of decedent’s estate passed to his heirs-at-law, which would later be determined by the trial court. The court of appeals raised the issue of whether it had jurisdiction over the appeal. The court noted that in probate proceedings there was an exception to the one final judgment rule:
“Probate and guardianship proceedings present ‘an exception to the “one final judgment” rule[.]'” “[I]n such cases, multiple judgments final for purposes of appeal can be rendered on certain discrete issues.” “This exception reflects the necessity of reviewing ‘”controlling, intermediate decisions before an error can harm later phases of the proceeding[.]”‘” … [I]n probate and guardianship proceedings, “if there is a proceeding of which the order in question may logically be considered a part, but one or more pleadings also part of that proceeding raise issues or parties not disposed of, then the probate order is interlocutory.”
Id. The parties contended that multiple Texas courts have recognized that an order determining a will’s validity or construing a will is a final order for purposes of appeal. The court disagreed that the order was sufficiently final:
[T]he relevant and discrete portion of the probate proceeding presented through Zazulak’s declaratory judgment action and motion for summary judgment was a determination of the effect of the failure of the residuary clause of the Will. In her declaratory judgment action, Zazulak sought both a declaration that the residuary clause of the Will lapsed and that the Decedent’s residuary estate passed via intestacy to her. The March 1 Order determined that the residuary clause lapsed, but it did not determine that Zazulak was the Decedent’s sole heir-at-law or that the residuary estate passed to her. Because the March 1 Order does not dispose of all parties and issues at this stage of the proceeding, it is not a final, appealable order.