An interesting collection of facts for probate litigation attorneys in Texas. This is an opinion of the Texas Supreme Court regarding a Texas probate litigation question about the four (4) year statute of limitations in Texas for verification of a Texas probate.
The case is Ferrera v. Butler 575 SW3d 331.
After Norman and Linda Ferreira’s divorce, Norman married Patricia Hill, whose children from a previous marriage Douglas and Debra Butler (“The Servants”) who sued in probate litigation.
Patricia passed away in 2006. Patricia left her entire estate to Norman. But Norman did not check Patricia’s will in Texas and Norman did not marry again. Norman died in 2015 and left most of his Texas estate to his first wife, Linda. Linda applied for a Texas will and was appointed as an independent executor.
Linda discovered Patricia’s will while examining Norman’s belongings after his death. As the independent executor of Norman Estate, Linda offered Patricia’s will as a Texan heir of the title nine (9) years after Patricia’s death. The servants, Patricia’s intestate heirs, challenged Patricia’s will on the grounds that it was prohibited by the four-year limitation period in Section 256.003(a) of the Texas Code.
Butler argued that Norman’s failure to prove Patricia’s will is a relevant “default” under the Texas Investigative Texas Probate Act. In response, Linda provided no evidence that Norman was in default in his failure to prove Patricia’s will, but maintained that she, and not Norman, was the “applicant” in Texas Estates law, and that it was not a “default” because she offered will He documents the wills only one month after his discovery.
After several Texas probate court proceedings, the Texas Supreme Court found that Linda would qualify as a self-interested person as Norman planner and allowed her an opportunity to adjust her Texas court pleas in Texas Probate Court to pursue Patricia’s will in an individual capacity.
We represent potential beneficiaries and heirs to challenge probate based on lack of will power, undue influence, forgery, etc. We help beneficiaries protect their interest to ensure that they receive what they are legally entitled to by will or by the laws of Texas.
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