In Ackers v. Comerica Bank & Trust, N.A., a life-time beneficiary of a trust filed a claim for a declaration regarding whether certain contingent remainder beneficiaries were beneficiaries. No. 21-0233, 2022 Tex. LEXIS 997 (Tex. October 28, 2022)(Busby, J., Concurring). The trial court ruled that the claim was not ripe because the contingent remainder
In Berry v. Berry, one brother sued his other three brothers regarding the leasing of a family ranch. No. 20-0687, 2022 Tex. LEXIS 405 (Tex. May 13, 2022). The family ranch was owned by a limited partnership. The largest limited partner was a trust, and all four brothers were trustees of the trust. A family business, which the plaintiff was no longer an owner of, used the family ranch under an alleged oral lease. The plaintiff alleged that the oral lease was for too long a period and was for inadequate lease payments. The plaintiff filed suit in 2016 and complained about the time period of 2000-2007. The plaintiff sued in his capacity as a co-trustee of the trust and as a beneficiary of the trust. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants based on the statute of limitations. The court of appeals reversed.
Continue Reading Texas Supreme Court Dismisses Claims By Co-Trustee And Beneficiary Due To Statute Of Limitations And Clarifies That An Unnamed Contingent Beneficiary Can Have Standing To Sue
In Lawrence v. Bailey, a son killed his parents with a sledge hammer. No. 01-19-00799-CV, 2021 Tex. App. LEXIS 4716 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] June 15, 2021, no pet. history). The son was a named beneficiary of the father’s life insurance policy. The insurance company filed an interpleader action regarding the life insurance proceeds. The trial court awarded those to the father’s estate, and the father’s brother then filed a motion for new trial. The brother alleged that under the slayer statute, that he was entitled to the proceeds. The trial court denied the motion, and the brother appealed.
The court of appeals first held that the brother had standing to seek a declaration regarding the ownership of the insurance proceeds. The court noted that the brother argued:
Under the Texas Slayer Statute, a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or contract forfeits the beneficiary’s interest in the policy or contract if the beneficiary is a principal or an accomplice in willfully bringing about the death of the insured.” See Tex. Ins. Code. § 1103.151. He pointed out that, “[i]f there is no contingent beneficiary entitled to receive the proceeds of a life insurance policy or contract, the nearest relative of the insured is entitled to receive the proceeds.” Id. § 1103.152(c).
In In the Estate of Johnson, a child of the decedent accepted over $143,000 from the decedent’s estate and then decided to challenge the will due to mental capacity and undue influence. No. 20-0424, 2021 Tex. LEXIS 426 (Tex. May 28, 2021). The trial court ruled that the child could not accept a benefit under the will and then challenge the will and dismissed the child’s claim. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the child did not receive anything that the child would not also receive if there was no will, and therefore, she was not inconsistent and was not estopped from bringing her will contest. The court held that the executor “failed to satisfy her burden, as the Will’s proponent, by failing to demonstrate that [MacNerland] accepted greater benefits than those to which she was entitled under the Will or intestacy laws.” Id. The Texas Supreme Court accepted the will proponent’s petition for review and reversed the court of appeals.
Continue Reading Texas Supreme Court Holds That A Beneficiary May Not Accept Any Benefit From A Will And Then Later Challenging The Will
In In the Estate of Maberry, the alleged common-law wife of an intestate decedent did not have standing to seek to remove the decedent’s daughter as independent administrator because she was not an “interested person” following her voluntary release of all her rights in the estate in a settlement agreement. No. 11-18-00349-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 10447 (Tex. App.—Eastland December 31, 2020, no pet. history). In the agreement, the alleged heir agreed to accept $2,000 “as consideration for compromise, settlement and release of all claim of [Harper] to any part of the Estate.” The heir then contended that she did not release her right to receive an inheritance from the estate, she only released “claims” against the estate, and her right to receive an inheritance from the estate was not a claim against the estate.
Continue Reading Court Held That An Heir Of An Estate Who Released All Claims Against The Estate Via A Settlement Agreement No Longer Had Standing To Bring Suit
In Ackers v. Comerica Bank & Trust, N.A., an income beneficiary sued a trustee for a declaration regarding the construction of a testamentary trust. No. 11-18-00352-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 10442 (Tex. App.—Eastland December 31, 2020, no pet. history). The will provided that the income beneficiary was to receive the income from the corpus of the trust during his lifetime, and upon his death, the trust would terminate and the corpus of the trust would pass to the “then-living descendants” of the income beneficiary. The income beneficiary brought a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that some of his descendants should be excluded at his death, and the trial court entered summary judgment that the relief sought was not ripe for consideration.
Continue Reading Court Held That The Issue Of Who Was Included In The Class Of Descendants Was Not Ripe Until The Current Beneficiary Dies
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 Garcia v. Communities in Schools of Brazoria County, a director sued a nonprofit’s board for breach of fiduciary duty arising from his removal. 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97017 (S. D. Tex. June 10, 2019). The board alleged that he did not have standing to bring such a claim, and the district court agreed:…
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 Estate of Keener, two heirs of a trust settlor filed an application to declare heirship. No. 13-18-00007-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 1222 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi February 21, 2019, no pet. history). The beneficiary of the trust filed a plea in intervention in the heirship proceeding, but the trial court denied his intervention. The…