Texas Supreme Court Opinion: Statute of Limitations in Texas to Probate a Will in Ferreira v. Butler

probate litigation case in courtroom

An interesting set of facts for a Texas probate litigation attorney. This is a Texas Supreme Court Opinion regarding a Texas probate litigation question on the four (4) year statute of limitations in Texas to probate a Texas will.

The case is Ferreira v. Butler, 575 S.W.3d 331.

After Norman and Linda Ferreira divorced, Norman married Patricia Hill, whose children from a prior marriage include Douglas and Debra Butler (“the Butlers”) who filed the probate litigation lawsuit.

Patricia died in 2006. Patricia’s will left her entire estate to Norman. But Norman never probated Patricia’s Texas will and Norman never remarried. Norman died in 2015 and left most of his Texas Estate to his first wife Linda. Linda filed for Texas probate and was appointed Independent Executor.  

Linda discovered Patricia’s will while going through Norman’s belongings after his death. In her capacity as Independent Executor of Norman’s Estate, Linda offered Patricia’s will for probate as a Texas muniment of title nine (9) years after Patricia’s death. The Butlers, Patricia’s intestate heirs, contested the probate of Patricia’s will on the ground that it was a barred by the four-year limitation period in Section 256.003(a) of the Texas Estates Code.

The Butlers argued that Norman’s failure to probate Patricia’s will is the relevant “default” under the Texas statute of limitation for probating a Texas will. In response, Linda offered no evidence that Norman was not in default in failing to probate Patricia’s will, but asserted that she, not Norman, is the “Applicant” in Texas Estates Code and that she was not “in default” because she offered the will for probate only a month after discovering it.

After many Texas Probate Court proceedings, the Texas Supreme Court found that Linda would qualify as an interested person in her own right as Norman’s devisee and allowed Linda an opportunity to amend her Texas probate litigation pleadings in the Texas Probate Court to pursue probate of Patricia’s will in Linda’s individual capacity.

We represent beneficiaries and potential heirs in contesting wills based on lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, forgery, etc. We help beneficiaries to protect their interest to ensure that they received what they are legally entitled to receive under a will or based on the laws in Texas.

Do you need the guidance of a probate litigation attorney in Dallas, Texas?

Call our office at 214-559-7202 or contact us online to schedule your no charge consultation with one of our experienced litigation attorneys. 

 

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