Probate Proceedings in Dallas and Throughout Texas: Who Can Participate?

People call our Dallas, Texas, trust attorney’s law office all the time with questions as to the interpretation of a trust they are involved in which the “intent” is ambiguous. The following informative blog post by one of our top Dallas trust attorneys dives into the issue of intent. If you have questions regarding disputing a trust or even trust litigation, reach out to us for a free consultation on your trust litigation issues throughout the Dallas, Texas, area.

~ Editor’s Note

Who Can Participate in Probate Proceedings?

When a person who is close to us passes away, it is sometimes a difficult realization to learn that we might not be able to participate in the probate court proceedings for the loved one’s estate. In a recent Texas Supreme Court case, a father had to struggle to be allowed to participate in his son’s estate.

Dallas, Texas - Probate Attorneys - Probate Proceedings & Texas LawThe Texas Estates Code allows a person “interested” in an estate to participate in the probate administration. Who is an “interested” person? Unfortunately, the answer is not as easy as it might first appear. The Code defines an “interested” person as someone who:

 

  • will receive property from the estate (for example, a beneficiary or heir);
  • is owed money from the estate (for example, a creditor);
  • was married to the person who passed away (for example, a spouse);
  • is interested in the welfare of a mentally incapacitated person (for example, a guardian of a beneficiary or heir);
  • is interested in the welfare of a minor (for example, a parent of child who is a beneficiary or heir).

 

In a recent Texas Supreme Court case (In re McDonald, 424 S.W.3d 774 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2014, mand. denied), someone passed away (“Decedent”), leaving behind a father, a minor child who was the Decedent’s son, and a woman claiming to be the Decedent’s common-law wife.

The Decedent’s father was taking care of the Decedent’s son during the estate administration and paid for some of the Decedent’s funeral expenses. The father filed a claim in the probate court, asking the court to allow the father to be reimbursed from the estate for the funeral expenses the father paid.

Additionally, the Decedent’s father wanted to participate in the Decedent’s probate estate, arguing that he was both an estate creditor and a person interested in the welfare of a minor beneficiary. The trial court denied the father the ability to participate in the probate proceedings and held that the father was not an “interested” person. The appeals court reversed and held that the father was an interested person under the Texas Estates Code and allowed the father to participate in the proceedings.

 

 

Editor’s Summary: Who Can Participate in Probate Proceedings? ~ Dallas, Texas

Probate law can be very complex, especially to lay people. Our top probate attorneys specialize in all areas of probate law, including probate disputes and litigation. Whether one has standing to participate is just one area of the law. If you are already involved in probate, or considering disputing probate, reach out to one of our top Dallas probate lawyers for a free consultation. Our office is conveniently located in North Dallas, so if you are in nearby cities such as Plano, Richardson, or Farmers Branch, a free consultation on your probate issues is just an easy phone call or drive away.