Jurisdiction In Will Contest Cases In Texas

In Crawford v. Williams, 797 S.W.2d 184 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 1976, writ denied), a will was admitted to probate in constitutional county court in 1968. Crawford, 797 S.W.2d at 184. In 1986, several heirs brought suit in the district court seeking a declaration that the will was null and void due to fraud, a partition of certain real property, an accounting of rents, royalties, and waste on the real property, and a distribution of the real property through the laws of intestacy. Id. The district court set aside the will, determined heirship, partitioned the real property, and ordered an accounting. Id. In sustaining a challenge that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the proceeding, the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals determined that because the county court had already acquired jurisdiction over the estate, and because the later action sought to set aside an already probated will, the district court, under the doctrine of noninterference, was prevented from exercising jurisdiction over the matter. Crawford, 797 S.W.2d at 185-86. The fact that the action was a direct attack on the county court's order admitting the will to probate was compelling to the court. See id. at 186. The court also seemed to place much importance on the fact that under amended section 5 of the Probate Code, the county court would have the jurisdiction to hear the will contest. See id. at 185.