In re Estate of Clark, 219 S.W.3d 509 (Tex. App.—Tyler 2007, no pet.).

Estate Administration




Testator left his estate in equal portions to his three children. Daughter had lived in Testator’s house for several years and had helped care for him. Consequently, she filed a claim against the estate for improvements she had made to house during this time. The trial court conducted a hearing and granted Daughter’s request for reimbursement but for a lesser amount than she requested. The court reduced her claim by her share of the expenses for selling the house and for items of Testator’s personal property which she retained from the estate. Daughter appealed.

The appellate court affirmed. The court rejected Daughter’s claim that the evidence was insufficient to show that Daughter actually had retained several items of Testator’s personal property. The court held that the circumstantial evidence that she did so was sufficient to support the trial court’s finding. She lived with Testator for several years and then retained exclusive possession of the house for approximately three months after Testator’s death. Because these items were missing thereafter, there was adequate evidence that Daughter either retained or disposed of them.

Moral: A trial court’s finding regarding the appropriate reimbursement amount will be hard to overturn on appeal.