In re Guardianship of Gibbs, 253 S.W.3d 866 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2008, pet. dism'd).




A potential remainder beneficiary brought suit in a statutory probate court on behalf of his mother for restitution and breach of fiduciary duty against other beneficiaries. After the court awarded over $1 million in damages, a procedural dispute arose over whether the statutory probate court had jurisdiction to hear the case. The appellate court found that these actions did not fall within the scope of the court’s jurisdiction and thus reversed the trial court’s judgment. The court explained that the claims do not involve or concern a trust but rather the alleged tortuous conduct of other beneficiaries.

Note: The current version of Probate Code § 5(e) which provides that the statutory probate court has concurrent jurisdiction with the district court “in all actions by or against a trustee” was not applicable to this case because this case was filed many years before the effective date of the relevant amendment (September 1, 2005).

Moral: A plaintiff must make certain that the court in which an action is brought has jurisdiction to hear the case.