Morris v. Halbert

Decision Date01 January 1871
Citation36 Tex. 19
PartiesT. W. MORRIS v. L. N. HALBERT.
CourtTexas Supreme Court

1. Under the laws of this State, heirs may take the property of their deceased ancestor, and pay his debts, without bringing the estate within the jurisdiction of the probate court; and if, in pursuing this course, they sell portions of the property and make proper application of the proceeds to the payment of the debts, their acts are entitled to full faith and credit, as though they acted in the capacity of administrators or executors.

2. Note the opinion in this case as to the conditions which must concur, to enable an administrator to obtain an order to sell, as assets, real estate which had been sold by the heirs previous to the grant of the administration.

3. The doctrine that judgments cannot be collaterally impeached in other actions is not applicable to void judgments. They can always be impeached

APPEAL from Washington. Tried below before the Hon. I. B. McFarland.

The opinion of the court is referred to for a statement of the case.

J. D. & D. C. Giddings, for the appellant.

Sayles & Bassetts, for the appellee.


This is an action of trespass to try title; the title to the land comes through R. T. Matson, deceased. The plaintiff claims under an administrator's deed. The defendant claims under a deed from the heirs of Matson. Matson died in the year 1864, leaving an estate, mostly in land, appraised at seventeen thousand dollars. His debts amounted to about six or seven thousand dollars. No administration was granted until August, 1868.

In the meantime the heirs had agreed to pay off the debts of the estate, and divide the property. Some of the debts were paid, and Halbert, being a creditor of the estate to the amount of two hundred dollars, purchased of the heirs the small tract of land in controversy for the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars, surrendering his claim against the estate, and paying the fifty dollars balance in money. The land in controversy is a part of what is known as the Gordon tract, which was set apart to the widow of R. T. Matson as a homestead. The widow, dying, left Mrs. McNelly, the wife of L. H. McNelly, her sole heir. McNelly and wife, in the month of January, 1868, sold and deeded the land to Halbert, as before stated.

In the month of August subsequent, Morris, the brother of the appellant, took out letters of administration upon the estate of R. T. Matson. At the time the McNellys deeded the land to Halbert, it will be seen, there had been no administration; the deed is not impeached for fraud, nor is it claimed that the estate did not receive the full benefit of the sale.

The estate is solvent, being worth sufficient to pay all the debts, and leave a balance of more than ten thousand dollars to the heirs. There is evidence to show that the plaintiff, acting as the attorney of his brother, the administrator, had full knowledge of the previous sale to Halbert, at the time he purchased the land, and that his brother and he both assured the defendant that it was not their purpose to sell the land, which had been sold to him by the heirs. The administrator did not obtain his order to sell until 1869.

The instruction of the court to the jury laid down the rule of law correctly. Indeed, we think it might have been with propriety more strongly stated against the appellant than it was.

Upon the death of the ancestor, the legal title descends to the heir, subject to the expenses of administration and the payment of debts. Under our laws the heirs may take the property and pay the debts, without bringing it within the jurisdiction of the probate court. And if they proceed to do this, and, acting in good faith and publicly, they dispose of portions of the property, making the proper application of the proceeds of sales to the payment of debts, their acts are entitled to full faith and credit,...

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16 cases
  • Turcotte v. Trevino
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • September 24, 1973
    ...of a decedent may validly assign all or any part of their rights and interests in a decedent's estate to another person. Morris v. Halbert, 36 Tex. 19 (1891); Geraghty v. Randals, 224 S.W.2d 327 (Tex.Civ.App.--Waco 1949, n.w.h.); 20 Tex.Jur.2d, Descent and Distribution, § 33, p. 116. An ass......
  • Jones v. Sun Oil Co.
    • United States
    • Texas Supreme Court
    • July 16, 1941
    ...not pass by virtue of a sale thereunder. Paul v. Willis, 69 Tex. 261, 7 S.W. 357; Smith v. Paschal, Tex. Com.App., 1 S.W.2d 1086; Morris v. Halbert, 36 Tex. 19; Templeton v. Falls Land & Cattle Co., 77 Tex. 55, 13 S.W. 964; Farmers' National Bank v. Daggett, Tex. Com.App., 2 S.W.2d 834; Cof......
  • Trevino v. Turcotte
    • United States
    • Texas Supreme Court
    • March 15, 1978
    ...the heirs, devisees and legatees of a decedent may validly assign all or any part of their interests in a decedent's estate. Morris v. Halbert, 36 Tex. 19 (1871); Geraghty v. Randals, 224 S.W.2d 327 (Tex.Civ.App. Waco 1949, no writ); 61 Tex.Jur.2d Wills, § 324. Neither do they dispute the r......
  • Schroeder v. Wilcox
    • United States
    • Nebraska Supreme Court
    • February 6, 1894
    ... ... ( People v. Eggleston, 13 How. Pr. [N. Y.], 123; ... Camden v. Haymond, 9 W. Va., 680; Condry v ... Cheshire, 88 N. Car., 375; Morris v. Hogle, 37 ... Ill. 150; Cain v. Goda, 84 Ind. 209; Morris v ... Halbert, 36 Tex. 19; Martin v. Judd, 60 Ill ... 78; Edwards v ... ...
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