Estate Administration

Surety Liability

Sierad v. Barnett, 164 S.W.3d 471 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2005, no pet.).


After Intestate’s death, the court appointed Daughter as the administrator and required the posting of bond. After a complicated series of events and legal actions, the court determined that Daughter had breached her fiduciary duties and rendered a judgment against her and Surety. Surety appealed.

Surety argued that the evidence was insufficient to show that Daughter’s acts and omissions had caused economic loss to the trust. The trial court enumerated a list of a dozen ways in which Daughter had wasted or converted estate assets such as living in Intestate’s house without paying rent and not making the mortgage payments. The court reviewed the evidence supporting the trial court’s conclusions and held that the findings were not so contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence so as to be clearly wrong or unjust. Accordingly, the court agreed with the trial court that Surety was liable.

Moral: A surety who wishes to escape liability for the evil acts of a personal representative should make its best case at the trial level because it will be difficult to overturn a finding of liability on appeal.