In re Estate of Florence, 307 S.W.3d 887 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2010, no pet.).



Statute of Limitations


Testator’s will gave Wife, among other things, his “tangible property.” The residuary of the estate passed into a testamentary trust. After Wife died over twenty years later, the issue arose as to whether real property was included within the term “tangible property” and thus was part of Wife’s estate having passed to her under Testator’s will or whether this real property passed through the testamentary trust.

The appellate court’s decision focused not on the merits of the claim but rather on whether the statute of limitations had run on the interpretation action brought by the beneficiaries of Wife’s will. Both sides agreed that the residuary four year statute of limitations applies but disagreed as to when the time began to run. The court rejected the argument that limitations began to run from the date Testator’s will was admitted to probate. Instead, the court determined that limitations did not run until the claim was made that the term “tangible property” included not only tangible personal property but real property as well.

Moral: The statute of limitations for interpretation actions begins to run when parties advocate conflicting interpretations, not when the testator’s will is admitted to probate.