Estate Administration

Authority of Heir

Kenseth v. Dallas County, 126 S.W.3d 584 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2004, pet. denied).


Plaintiff died during the course of a highly complex case dealing with matters not relevant to estate planning. The issue arose whether Heir was a proper substitute plaintiff even though she was not appointed by the probate court as Plaintiff’s personal representative. The court reviewed the applicable case law as well as Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 151 and concluded that “if no estate administration is pending and none is necessary, the plaintiff’s heir may appear in the case on the plaintiff’s behalf.” Id. at 596. Accordingly, Heir was a proper appellant and had standing to represent Plaintiff’s estate.

Moral: Problems may arise when the original parties to an action die and successors in interest take over. To avoid these problems, the status of the successors should be clearly documented and presented to the court.