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What happens when a Texas probate court makes a bad decision?

By September 16, 2019 No Comments

I wrote this article for a previous law firm. At New & Hall, we continue to offer appellate legal services. This article is specific to probate appeals which tend to be a little less clear, generally speaking. Please read below to see if we might be of help if you have had a probate case turn out differently from what you expected.

Can You Appeal a Texas Probate Court Ruling?

Most people are familiar with the concept of an appeal after a trial. If either party believes the trial court made an error that had a negative impact on the end result, the court of appeals can address the error. But a probate proceeding is not a trial in the traditional sense. What do you do when the judge simply gets it wrong? You can appeal a probate court ruling even though you may not have had a “plaintiff” or “defendant.”

When Can You Appeal a Texas Probate Court?

The Texas probate court’s ruling on whether or not a will is probated is immediately appealable. The Texas Estates Code specifically states that a Texas probate court’s order admitting or denying a will is final and appealable to the court of appeals.

Other probate cases involve litigation that more closely resemble what is generally envisioned as a lawsuit. For example, parties often litigate whether the will is valid, litigate whether someone improperly influenced the creator of the will in order to gain more of the estate, or dispute the actions of the executor. Trusts get litigated for similar reasons. In these cases, the appeals process can start under the same timing of typical litigation cases, under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and/or Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure.

What Constitutes a Final Order If We Didn’t Have a Litigated Probate Case?

If the probate case is a determination of heirship, the judgment declaring heirship is a final order for purposes of appeal. If the judgment is based upon an error, it may be appealed. The appointment of an executor or administrator may be appealed as well as a denial of an appointment. Further, admitting a will to probate as a valid will can also be an appealable order if the court made an error.

Don’t assume your case is over if you don’t get the result you believe is correct. Let us determine if the probate court made an error. If there was an error, our office may be able to have the court of appeals correct that error.

Appealing a trial court is not a short or simple process. Be sure the Texas probate attorney you contact has sufficient knowledge of Texas appeals. You can not afford to wager your inheritance on inexperience.