General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section of the State Bar of Texas





West Tex. LTC Partners, Inc. v. Collier, 2020 Tex. App. W.L. 103597; LEXIS 190 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2020)


Creditors’ Claims in Guardianship: A ward’s guardian provided the required statutory notice (see Texas Estates Code §1153.003) to a nursing home because the nursing home was purportedly owed approximately $6,000 from the ward’s estate.  The notice directed the nursing home to present a proper claim within 120 days of receipt of the notice, or risk the claim being barred by law.  Instead of presenting a proper claim, the nursing home filed suit against the guardian in the wrong court.  The case was transferred to the correct court, but the ward died while the suit was pending.  The guardianship court then dismissed the claim.  The guardian was subsequently appointed independent administratrix of the ward’s estate, and the nursing home submitted an authenticated claim to the administratrix in the estate proceeding.  The administratrix objected to the claim and asserted the claim was barred because the nursing home failed to file a proper claim in the guardianship.   The nursing home filed suit in the estate proceeding, and the trial court signed a take nothing judgment in favor of the estate. Held: The appellate court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.  The nursing home’s claim does not “spring back to life” after the death of the ward.  The process for creditors in a guardianship proceeding is perilous.  Failing to file a claim in accordance with the Texas Estates Code may result in a permanently barred claim.


In the Estate of Burns, 2020 Tex. App. W.L. 354940; LEXIS 553 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2020)


Limitations of Anti-Lapse:  The decedent left his residuary estate to a cousin, Lynn, who predeceased him.  Lynn’s sisters (and co-executrices of her estate) sought declaratory relief, as follows: 1) the Texas anti-lapse statute protected the gift to Lynn because Lynn was a “descendant of the decedent’s mother;” 2) the court should presume the decedent did not intend to die intestate and 3) the decedent intended to exclude all others from the gift to Lynn, except Lynn’s beneficiaries and successors to her estate.  Held: Under Texas law, a gift to a beneficiary who predeceases the testator lapses unless the anti-lapse rule applies.  If a devisee who is a descendant of the testator or a descendant of a testator's parent fails to survive the testator, the descendants of the devisee who survived the testator (by 120 hours) take the devised property in place of the devisee. Tex. Est. Code § 255.153(a).  However, in this case, the anti-lapse rule did not extend to protect the gift to the decedent’s cousin because she was not a descendant of the decedent’s parent.  Furthermore, the will was not ambiguous and there was no language in the will compelling a result different from the general rule under Texas law.  Therefore, the residuary estate passed to decedent’s heirs at law.  The appellate court affirmed the decision of the trial court.



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