In re Estate of Rogers, 322 S.W.3d 361 (Tex. App.—El Paso 2010, no pet.).

Estate Administration

Statute of Limitations

 

The trial court found that Decedent died intestate, determined heirs, and appointed Independent Administrators in 2006. In 2009, Friends attempted to set aside these orders and probate Decedent’s will. Independent Administrators claimed that it was too late to challenge the orders as both the time to appeal and file a bill of review under Probate Code § 31 (two years from date of judgment) had elapsed. Friends claimed that they were within the four year period to probate a will under Probate Code § 73. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Independent Administrators and Friends appealed.

The appellate court affirmed. The court recognized that normally a will proponent has four years from the date of the testator’s death to probate the will. However, Probate Code § 73 does not address the situation where the court has already entered a final judgment that the decedent died intestate. Friends had the options of appealing the trial court’s judgment or filing a bill of review. Because Friends did neither in a timely manner, they are barred from setting aside the judgment.

Moral: A person dissatisfied with a determination of heirship should timely appeal or file a bill of review.



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