Estate Administration


Transfer to District Court From County Court

Krumnow v. Krumnow, 174 S.W.3d 820 (Tex. App.—Waco 2005, pet. denied).


Testator’s will was admitted to probate in a constitutional county court and Executor duly qualified as the personal representative. Later, an application was filed to remove Executor from office and have a successor appointed. The county court transferred the case to the district court under Probate Code § 5(b). The district court declined to remove Executor at first but later removed Executor and appointed a successor. Subsequently, Executor field a motion to have this order vacated and the district court scheduled a hearing to resolve all matters involving Testator’s will and inter vivos trust including the appointment of a receiver. The district court denied Executor’s motion and appointed a receiver. Executor appealed.

The appellate court began its analysis by examining whether the district court had jurisdiction to issue its orders. The court agreed that the district court had jurisdiction over whether Executor should be removed from office because this was a contested matter under Probate Code § 5(b) which is eligible for transfer from the county court to the district court. However, the district court lacked jurisdiction to appointed a successor personal representative. The district court had jurisdiction to resolve only the contested matter (whether to remove Executor) after which the case should have returned to the county court for further proceedings (the appointment of a successor personal representative). Accordingly, the court vacated the district court’s appointment of a successor personal representative.

Moral: A district court that receives a transfer from a county court has jurisdiction to determine only the contested issues, not all issues remaining in the case.



Appointment of Receiver

Krumnow v. Krumnow, 174 S.W.3d 820 (Tex. App.—Waco 2005, pet. denied).


A district court appointed a receiver on its own motion, and without notice to the fiduciary holding the property, to swoop in and take control over various properties involved in a will and inter vivos trust dispute. The appellate court determined that the court abused its discretion in issuing this order. The court explained that “[r]eceivership is an extraordinary harsh remedy and one that courts are particularly loathe to utilize.” Krumnow at 828. The court described how both the trust and estate property were currently being managed by a fiduciary and thus there was no great emergency or imperious necessity for a receiver. The status of the property could be maintained by a less drastic remedy such as a restraining order or temporary injunction.

Moral: The appointment of a receiver is justified only in extreme cases where this remedy appears to be the only way to preserve or protect the property in litigation.