O’Donnell v. Smith, 197 S.W.3d 394 (2006).

Other Estate Planning Matters


Belt to Apply Retroactively


One of the issues in this case involved whether an estate’s personal representative can sue the decedent’s former attorneys for malpractice in advising the decedent in his capacity as the executor of his wife’s estate. The lower court ruled in favor of attorneys basing its judgment on the fact that the decedent’s executor and the estate lacked privity of contract with the attorneys.

The Supreme Court of Texas granted a petition for review without reference to the merits, vacated the lower court’s judgment, and remanded so the lower court could take into account the holding in Belt v. Oppenheimer, Blend, Harrison & Tate, Inc., 49 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 598 (Tex. 2006).

Moral: The Belt holding will be applied retroactively to causes of action that accrued and decisions rendered prior to the date of the Supreme Court’s decision. Thus, many actions thought to be concluded and subject to res judicata may be reopened.