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Can Reasonable Diligence Trump a Probate Statute of Limitations in Texas?

Default for failing to file?

Default at Law

A default is the failure to do something required by law or the failure to comply with a contractual obligation. When it comes to filing a will for probate, there is a timeline that the filer must comply with in order to avoid being found in default.

TX Probate Case:

In re Estate of Campbell, 343 S.W.3d 899 (Tex. App. 2011)

Facts of the Case: Negligence or Diligence?

James E. Campbell was married to his second wife Freda when he passed away. Campbell and Freda had both signed wills using the same witnesses. In Campbell’s will it stated that if he were to die before Freda that she would receive all his property and estate and that she would act as the executor of his will. However, if Freda were to die before Campbell, his estate would be divided equally between his two stepsons, and his stepson Rumsey would be the executor of the will.

Campbell passed away before Freda making her the executor of the will. This meant that Freda was in charge of managing Campbell’s property after his death. Freda; however, did not submit Campbell’s will for probate which meant that his property and assets could not have their value assessed by a court, and they were not able to be managed in the way Campbell set forth in his will. Freda passed away 6 years after Campbell in 2008 without ever submitting Campbell’s will for probate. In 2009, a trial court held a hearing for Rumsey’s, Campbell’s stepson, application to determine whether Campbell’s will could then be offered for probate.

Rumsey testified that he and his brother Philip had gone to Freda’s house after she passed to look for anything they needed to take care of on her behalf. This was the first time Rumsey and Philip became aware of Campbell’s will, and this is when Rumsey sought to probate it. Rumsey testified that his mother was most likely aware of the existence of the will, but that he had never made any inquiries as to whether Campbell had a will or not. Brown, Campbell’s daughter, testified that Freda was aware of the existence of the will and had asked Freda if Campbell had a will, but Freda never answered.

The trial court found that even though more than four years had passed between Campbell’s death and Rumsey’s application to probate (more time than is allowed for an executor to wait before applying for probate) that Rumsey was not in default, and they issued an order to probate the will. The trial court found that Rumsey was not in possession of the will or aware of the existence of the will until 2008, and that he did not know why the will was not filed for probate. Brown appealed arguing that the trial court erred in this decision. The court of appeals found that the evidence presented to the trial court was sufficient to find that Rumsey was not in default, and that the trial court did not err by concluding that the will was admissible to probate.

What this case means: Does the 4 year statute always apply?

What happens when the amount of time passes to submit a will to probate after a person’s death? Here, because four years had passed between the death of Campbell and Rumsey’s application for probate, Rumsey had the burden of proving to the court that he exercised reasonable diligence in offering the will for probate. The court of appeals found that a reasonable person could find that Rumsey was diligent in his efforts as he first became aware of the will in 2008 shortly after the passing of his mother Freda. Rumsey had no previous awareness of the will. Once he discovered the will, Rumsey offered it for probate within 7 months of his discovery. This was sufficient evidence to prove reasonable diligence which meant that Rumsey was not in default.

Does a previous executor’s default prevent a new executor from submitting a will to probate? Here, because Freda did not submit the will to probate within four years, she was in default. Brown argued in her appeal that Freda’s default should prevent Rumsey from being able to submit the will to probate as well. The court of appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court that the will was admissible. Brown argued solely on the basis of Freda’s default and presented evidence from cases where the person submitting the case to probate had defaulted. However, the court of appeals found that because Rumsey did not default, these cases did not apply, and the will was still admissible to probate.

Do you need help from an Experienced Probate Attorney for a Probate Dispute Matter?

If you’re involved in a probate dispute in Texas, you may be wondering if the statute of limitations will apply. The answer is, it depends. If you can show that you acted with reasonable diligence in trying to resolve the matter, the court may find that the statute of limitations doesn’t apply. However, if you’ve been neglectful in pursuing your claim, the court is more likely to find that the statute does apply.

If you’re not sure whether or not the statute of limitations applies in your case, it’s important to speak with an experienced probate attorney who can help you understand your rights and options.

https://dfw-probate-law.com/

Related Questions

How long is the probate statute of limitations in Texas?

The probate statute of limitations in Texas is four years. This means that if you don’t file a probate case within four years of the person’s death, you may not be able to do so.

However, there is an exception to this rule. If you can show that you were reasonably diligent in trying to file the probate case, the court may allow you to do so even if it’s been more than four years since the person died.

Is statute of limitations an affirmative defense in Texas?

The statute of limitations is an affirmative defense in Texas. This means that if you are sued for an debt, the statute of limitations is a defense that you can raise to have the case dismissed. The statute of limitations is the time limit that a creditor has to file a lawsuit against you. In Texas, the statute of limitations for most debts is four years. This means that if you are sued for a debt more than four years after you incurred the debt, you can raise the statute of limitations as a defense and the case will be dismissed.

What is the statute of limitations in Texas real estate?

The statute of limitations in Texas for real estate is four years. This means that if you don’t file a lawsuit within four years of the date of the incident, you may be barred from doing so.

However, there is an exception to this rule called the “reasonable diligence” exception. This exception allows you to file a lawsuit even if it’s been more than four years since the incident occurred, as long as you can show that you reasonably attempted to discover the cause of your injuries during that time.

To learn more about the statute of limitations in Texas, and how it may apply to your case, contact a knowledgeable probate attorney in your area.

What is the statute of limitations on a civil suit in Texas?

The civil statute of limitations in Texas is two years. This means that if you want to file a civil suit against someone, you have two years from the date of the incident to do so. After that, your case will be dismissed.

However, there is an exception to this rule known as the doctrine of reasonable diligence. This doctrine says that if you can show that you were reasonably diligent in trying to file your lawsuit within the two-year period, then your case may be allowed to proceed.

So, if you have a civil suit that you want to file in Texas, but it’s been more than two years since the incident occurred, you may still have a chance if you can show that you were reasonably diligent in trying to file your lawsuit.

What is the statute of limitations for a felony in Texas?

The statute of limitations for a felony in Texas is three years. This means that if you are charged with a felony, the state has three years to bring you to trial. If they do not, you can no longer be tried for that crime.

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