Estate Administration


Judgment Against Estate

In re Fairfield Financial Group, Inc., 29 S.W.3d 911 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2000, no pet.).


Debtor executed a promissory note payable to Creditor. Debtor died and the court appointed Debtor’s wife, the sole estate beneficiary, as the independent executrix. Creditor filed an authenticated claim which was not paid. Subsequently, Creditor sued “the Estate of [Debtor].” Citation was issued to the estate and served on Executrix. Executrix then filed a general denial signing both as the estate and as the personal representative. The court granted a summary judgment in favor of Creditor and later issued a writ of execution. Executrix contended that the original judgment was void on its face because there is no entity known as “the Estate of [Debtor].” The lower court agreed and quashed the writ. Creditor then sought a writ of mandamus.

The appellate court conditionally granted the writ. The court recognized the well-established Texas rule that an estate is not a legal entity and cannot be sued. However, in this case, the personal representative was served with citation and actually participated in the case. Accordingly, Creditor’s judgment was valid despite the fact that the estate, rather than the personal representative, was the named defendant.

Moral: To avoid delay and costly litigation, always sue the personal representative of the estate, not merely the estate.