Standing and Error Correction in Probate



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Estate Planning and Community Property Law Journal


Every citizen of Texas has the fundamental right to, at death, pass property earned over a lifetime to the person, persons, or entities of her or his choosing, and probate courts are the legal mechanism of accomplishing those goals. Error correction is one of the benchmarks of the Texas inheritance system. Interested persons should never hesitate to use one of the, now, four error correction procedures in probate if they are available to change a judgment issued incorrectly or in error. Having these multiple options emphasizes the importance of getting the order or judgment right, which is their overriding purpose; it does not matter which one is utilized to accomplish that goal. Obviously, the law favors finality of disputes and judgments, so while it is important to be able to change incorrect or erroneous orders, it is equally important to establish a point where no further changes can be made. The ability to alter an order cannot go on forever, otherwise an heir or beneficiary of an estate would never know for sure the property inherited is theirs unequivocally. The procedure and finality established by the Valdez holding, the bill of review and will contest statutes together provide that clarity and provide certainty that such orders and judgments, once final, are as correct as possible or, at least, will not be changed. The Texas Probate System works very well and, while not perfect, is an extremely equitable system to attempt to secure the inheritance rights of all persons.



Probate, Error correction, Standing in probate, Statutory bills of review, Wills contests, Heir, Beneficiary, Inheritance


10 Est. Plan. & Cmty. Prop. L. J. 299