Construction and Interpretation

Independent Administration

In re Estate of Bean, 120 S.W.3d 914 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 2003, pet. denied).


Beneficiaries brought an action to construe a will and the trial court heard the case. The independent executor asserted that the court had no jurisdiction to construe the will because the administration was independent. Both the trial and appellate courts rejected this argument. The appellate court based its holding on Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 37.004(a) (part of the Texas version of the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act) which provides that a person interested in a will may have any question of construction determined by the court.


Moral: A court may construe a will even if the administration is independent.


Estate Administration

Independent Administration

Partition and Distribution

In re Estate of Bean, 120 S.W.3d 914 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 2003, pet. denied).


The trial court ordered the independent executor to make a partition and distribution of the estate approximately 13 months after the estate was opened. The executor appealed claiming that the court lacked jurisdiction to issue this order because Probate Code § 149B(a) prohibits an interested person from demanding a distribution until two years have elapsed from the date the independent administration was created.

The appellate court agreed. It did not matter that the independent executor did not raise this issue at the trial court level because the issue involves subject matter jurisdiction which may be raised for the first time on appeal. In addition, subject matter jurisdiction may not be waived by the parties.

Moral: A court may not order the partition of an estate subject to independent administration until at least two years have elapsed from the opening of the estate.