Estate Administration


Schuld v. Dembrinski, 12 S.W.3d 485 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2000, no pet.).


Heir sued Siblings in a county court at law to petition property inherited from Intestate. Intestate’s estate had not been subject to administration and administration was neither necessary nor contemplated. Siblings asserted, however, that the county court at law lacked jurisdiction and that the statutory probate court had exclusive jurisdiction. The trial court agreed.

The appellate court vacated and ordered the case reinstated on the county court at law’s docket. The court recognized that probate courts typically have jurisdiction over matters incident to an estate. However, there was no probate proceeding pending when Heir filed suit and thus the probate court did not have jurisdiction. “[T]he pendency of a probate proceeding is a requisite for a [probate] court’s exercise of jurisdiction over matters related to it.” Schuld at 487. The partition action was not a probate or administration matter which would “fall within the expertise of a statutory probate court’s exclusive jurisdiction. * * * The fact that the co-owners of the house and lot derived their interests by the laws of descent and distribution or by virtue of a will does not convert this partition suit into a determination of heirship over which the statutory probate court might have exclusive jurisdiction.” Schuld at 488.

Moral: “[A] court empowered with probate jurisdiction may only exercise its probate jurisdiction over ‘matters incident to an estate’ when a probate proceeding relating to such matter is already pending in that court.” Schuld at 487.