Jurgens v. Martin, 631 S.W.3d 385 (Tex. App.—Eastland 2021, mand. denied).

Estate Administration


Brother filed suit against Sister in an attempt to recover Parents’ property belonging to the estate even though Sister was the personal representative. The appellate court recognized that “the personal representative of the estate of a decedent is the only person entitled to sue for the recovery of property belonging to the estate.” Id. at 398. However, the court permitted Brother to sue because Sister’s interest was antagonistic to those of the estate because Brother’s claims were against her.

In addition, the court explained that Brother had standing on two grounds. First, he was named as a beneficiary in the will and its in terrorem clause would not prevent him from bring his action against Sister for breach of fiduciary duties. See Tex. Est. Code § 254.005(b). Second, if Brother’s will contest action is successful, he would have a pecuniary interest as an heir. It was not necessary for the will to be set aside before he would have a justiciable interest in the suit.

Moral:  A person interested in the estate as a beneficiary or potential heir may be able to bring an action to recover estate property even if a personal representative is serving if the representative’s interests are antagonistic to the estate’s interests.



Estate Administration


Fraud on the Community

The appellate court held that a spouse’s claim for fraud on the community, a gift from a predeceased spouse to a child, does not survive the spouse’s death. Thus, “an heir or personal representative of an estate does not have standing to prosecute a claim for fraud on the community because the estate does not have standing to purse the claim.” Id. at 403.

Moral:  A spouse who wishes to assert a claim of fraud on the community must bring that action before the alleged defrauded spouse dies.