Why ancillary probate disputes arise in Texas

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2024 | Estate And Trust Administration

Ancillary probate in Texas is a process used to handle the assets of a deceased person that are located in Texas but whose primary estate is being probated in another state. 

While ancillary probate generally unfolds according to a relatively straightforward procedure, disputes can and do arise, complicating the process. 

Common causes of ancillary probate disputes

When those invested in the administration of an estate feel the need to contest any particular aspect of the ancillary probate process, their motivations may arise from any number of concerns. Some of the most common reasons that ancillary probate disputes arise include the following:

  • Jurisdictional issues: Disputes may arise over which state’s laws apply to certain aspects of an estate. For instance, Texas law might differ significantly from the laws of the decedent’s home state, leading to conflicts regarding asset distribution, creditor claims or tax liabilities.
  • Title and ownership conflicts: Ancillary probate often deals with real estate or other significant assets. Disputes can occur if there are questions about the rightful ownership or title of these assets. For example, if the property was jointly owned or if there were previous disputes over the title, it can complicate the probate process.
  • Executor authority: The authority of the executor appointed in the domiciliary state might be challenged in Texas. If the Texas court or interested parties believe that the executor is not acting in the best interest of the Texas estate, or if there is a local executor appointed, disputes can arise over who has the ultimate authority.
  • Creditor claims: Creditors in Texas may file claims against the estate during the ancillary probate process. Disputes often arise over the validity or priority of these claims, especially if there are insufficient assets to cover all debts or if creditors in the home state have competing claims.
  • Heir and beneficiary disagreements: Beneficiaries and heirs may disagree on the distribution of assets located in Texas. These disputes can be exacerbated by misunderstandings or dissatisfaction with how the estate is being handled overall.

Addressing these disputes effectively is rarely a straightforward process. As a result, seeking personalized guidance is generally wise.