In the Boone v. McGalley case, challenges to an applicant’s standing in probate court require a separate hearing prior to continuing with further action. Probate trial courts, without the collective designation of standing, are not able to rule on challenges and must defer to a higher court.
Probate Law Terminology
In Limine: means that an issue is heard individually, and prior to the merits of a case being considered.
Independent Executor Appointee: if a will’s designated independent executor is unwilling to serve, then the probate court may appoint an independent executor if all the devisees of the decedent agree that an independent administration should occur and jointly designate a qualified person, firm, or corporation to serve as independent administrator.
Boone v. McGalley, 29 S.W.3d 614 (Tex. App. – Waco 2000, no pet.)
Facts & Procedural History
Murray LeGalley (Appellee) filed an application to probate the will of John Kinard Durant (Testator) within the County Court in 1999 but did not specify his interest in the estate within his application. Appellee attached a copy of the will to the application, asserting that the original copy was possessed by Carson Campbell. Campbell was named as independent executor, but later indicated his unwillingness to hold this position. James C. Boone, Jr., and Gilbert N. Few (Appellants) contested Appellee’s application, arguing that he lacked an interest in Testator’s estate (meaning he lacked the standing to probate Testator’s will), and that an administration of the estate was not required. Shortly afterwards, the original will was filed, and the Court admitted the will to probate, without hearing evidence. The Court then appointed Ida Few as the independent executrix of the estate.
Appellants appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case. The Court held that: (1) a reversal was required (due to the trial court’s failure to hold an in limine hearing); and (2) the trial court lacked the authority to appoint Ida Few (a devisee) as an independent executrix. The Court stated that the County Court had erred by not holding an in limine hearing to consider the evidence of Appellee to support his standing to probate the will. This was a requirement before proceeding with the case, and without such evidence, the Court of Appeals could not properly determine Appellee’s interest in the estate. The Court of Appeals then articulated that the County Court also lacked the authority to appoint Ida Few as independent executrix because (1) the devisees of Testator’s estate had not indicated her designation for the role, and (2) if the independent executor designated by the will was unwilling to serve, the probate court was powerless to appoint an independent executor.
Main Considerations: Decedent and interested person jurisdiction and time requirements
What must occur after a will contestant challenges the applicant’s standing to probate the will?
The trial court must hold a separate hearing on that issue in limine before proceeding to the merits of the will contest. This might also affect interested persons.
Boone v. McGalley shows that challenges to an applicant’s standing in probate court require a separate hearing prior to continuing with further action. Probate trial courts, without the collective designation of an independent executrix by devisees, may not appoint one.
Do you need an experienced attorney to guide you through the probate administration process?
The process of probate administration can be complex and confusing, especially if you are unfamiliar with the law. An experienced probate attorney can help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights are protected. If you are facing probate in Texas, contact our office today to schedule a consultation. (210) 436-6601.
How long do you have to file probate after death?
In Texas, the general rule is that probate must be filed within four years after the decedent’s death. Interested persons might have different deadlines.
How do you get around probate court?
There are a few ways that you can get around probate court in Texas. One way is to create a trust. This will allow you to avoid probate court altogether. Another way is to have a small estate affidavit filed with the court. This will allow your heirs to receive your property without going through probate court. Although Texas probate is such that there is less need to avoid probate as there might be in other states.
What is the longest a probate can last?
The Texas Probate Code does not set a maximum duration for probate proceedings. However, most probates are concluded within a year. If the estate is small and there are no disputes among the heirs, the probate may be completed in a matter of months. If the estate is large or there are disagreements among the heirs, the probate may take longer to resolve.
How long does probate take?
The answer to this question depends on the complexity of the estate and the actions of the executor. Simple estates can be wrapped up in a matter of months, while more complicated ones can take years. In Texas, there is no limit on how long a probate can last. Having multiple interested persons might also affect the duration.
How does probate work?
If you are the executor or administrator of an estate, you may be wondering how to determine standing in Texas probate court. The first thing to understand is that there are two types of probate in Texas: Independent and Dependent. Independent probate is when the decedent left a will directing how their property should be distributed. In this case, the will must be filed with the court, and the executor named in the will must apply for a Letters Testamentary. This gives them the authority to carry out the wishes of the deceased as specified in the will. If there is no will, or if the will does not name an executor, then Dependent probate is used. In this case, a family member or other interested party must file a petition with the court asking to be appointed as administrator of the estate.
Once you have determined which type of probate is necessary, you can begin taking steps to file the appropriate paperwork and get the process started. If you are still unsure about what to do or where to start, you may want to consult with an experienced probate attorney who can help guide you through the process.