Jeter v. McGraw, 218 S.W.3d 850 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2007, pet. denied).

Estate Administration

Jurisdiction

Determination of Heirship

 

The district court in a county without a statutory probate court or a statutory court exercising probate jurisdiction made a determination of heirship in a factually complex case involving an alleged nonmarital child. The appellate court explained that Probate Code § 5(b) requires that such actions be filed in the constitutional county court. Because this action was not so filed, all judgments of the district court regarding heirship are void because the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case.

A dissenting justice opined that this was a dispute over the ownership of land in a case where no estate was being administered and thus the district court had subject matter jurisdiction.

Moral: Actions to determine the identity of an heir should be filed in the court with subject matter jurisdiction as specified in the Probate Code.



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