Carter Ex Rel. Estate of Haley v. Campbell, 427 S.W.3d 503 (Tex. App.—Austin 2014, no pet.).

Estate Administration


Family Settlement Agreements


Siblings agreed to a family settlement dividing their mother’s estate in approximately equal shares rather than under the mother’s will which provided for her children to receive unequal shares.  The siblings also agreed for one of them to serve as the independent executor.  Several years later, one of the other siblings requested an accounting and distribution.  The executor sibling objected claiming that the family settlement agreement deprived the court of jurisdiction.  The trial court disagreed and the executor appealed.

The appellate court affirmed stating that “the mere existence of a family settlement agreement does not automatically take an estate entirely outside of probate court jurisdiction.”  Id. at 506.  The court explained that it had jurisdiction because the mother’s estate was still under administration by the independent executor.  The family settlement agreement merely altered the distribution of the mother’s estate; there was no agreement to waive any right to seek judicial remedies.


Moral:  A family settlement agreement does not deprive a court of jurisdiction over the estate.