Effects of a Family Settlement Agreement?

Robert Ray

If as part of a will contests, you enter into a family settlement agreement, can you appeal the settlement if you become dissatisfied? The Dallas court of appeals has recently written on this issue and has determined that if you accepted benefits under the settlement agreement, you cannot appeal. The case involved the probate of a will by the life partner of the testator. The will left everything to the life partner. The siblings of the testator filed a will contest. The parties decided to settle and entered into a family settlement agreement which was dictated into the record in open court. The siblings accepted benefits under the agreement including possession of a car. Thereafter, when the family settlement agreement was reduced to writing, one of the siblings refused to sign it. The other sibling and the life partner asked the court to enter an order approving the family settlement agreement and authorizing the distribution of the estate. The court did do that. The sibling that was not satisfied, appealed. The Dallas court of appeals dismissed the appeal. The court said that when you enter into a family settlement agreement and accept benefits, you cannot appeal the court ruling. The court pointed out that there two exceptions to that rule neither of which applied in this case. The first exception was where the party appealing would have received the same benefit had there been no family settlement agreement. That exception didn’t apply in this case because the will left everything to life partner, therefore, the sibling would not have received anything if the will had been admitted to probate. The second exception is where a party has to enter into  the settlement agreement because of financial duress. The court said that there was no evidence of financial duress in this case and dismissed the appeal. 05-06-01109.


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Robert Ray

Robert Ray handles inheritance disputes of all kinds. He takes cases throughout Texas.
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