Estate of Trickett, No. 13-19-00154-CV, 2020 WL 6164324(Tex. App.—Corpus Christi-Edinburg Oct. 22, 2020, pet. filed).

Estate Administration

Determination of Heirship

Intestate died in 1972. When disputes arose over the ownership of Intestate’s property, the trial court examined the evidence and the report of the attorney ad litem. Thereafter, the court issued a judgment declaring Intestate’s heirs.


On appeal, the claim was made that the statute of limitations prevented the court from determining heirship. The appellate court began its analysis by explaining that Estates Code § 202.0025 which provides that there is no statute of limitations for heirship determinations applies only if the intestate died on or after January 1, 2014. Nonetheless, the court examined case authority from the San Antonio Court of Appeals from which this case was transferred which holds that even if the intestate’s death was prior to effective date of Estates Code § 202.0025, “no limitations period applies to heirship proceedings absent the existence of a prior administration of the decedent’s estate or a prior conveyance of the decedent’s property to a third party.” Estate of Ripley, No. 04-18-00968-CV, 2019 WL 4179128, at *3 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Sept. 4, 2019, pet. denied). Because there was no prior administration or conveyance of the decedent’s property in this case, the heirship determination was not barred by the statute of limitations.


The court also noted that the enabling legislation for Estates Code § 202.0025 explained that the statute was “intended to clarify current law” and that an inference that there was a statute of limitations applicable for prior intestate deaths may not be made. Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., ch 1136, § 62(f).


Moral:  It is arguable that no statute of limitations applies to heirship actions even if the intestate died prior to January 1, 2014.


Note:  This opinion replaced the a previous Trickett opinion. The new opinion adopts a considerably different approach to the issue. The withdrawn opinion focused on a technical difference between a trespass to try title action in which the plaintiff seeks to recover specified real property by showing the superiority of the plaintiff’s title, which is not covered by the four-year statute of limitations period and a quiet title suit in which the plaintiff relies on the weakness of the defendant’s title. Because the alleged heirs in this case were seeking to set aside allegedly voidable deeds, the court previously held that the action was subject to the four-year limitations period.