Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
the Probate Court No. 2, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No.
2015PC0654-A Honorable Tom Rickhoff, Judge Presiding
Bryan Marion, Chief Justice Karen Angelini, Justice Patricia
O. Alvarez, Justice
Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice
appeal stems from a lawsuit against Frank Rodriguez, in his
capacity as independent executor and trustee of a
testamentary trust created by the Last Will and Testament
(the "Will") of Francisco Rodriguez. The lawsuit
was brought by Appellant Blanca Rodriguez to enjoin the sale
of real property owned by Francisco at the time of his death
which Frank contracted to sell to Appellee Chris Christians.
Christians intervened in the lawsuit asserting the language
in the Will expressly gave Frank the power to sell the
property. Blanca, as a beneficiary of the estate and trust,
contends that language in the trust created a right of first
refusal in favor of the trust beneficiaries. Christians and
Blanca filed competing motions for summary judgment. The
trial court: (1) denied Blanca's motion; (2) granted
Christians's motion; (3) severed all claims and issues by
and between Frank or Blanca and Christians; and (4) ordered
Frank to convey the property to Christians. We affirm the
trial court's judgment.
and Procedural Background
Rodriguez died in February 2015 leaving his Will, which
generally benefitted his four children and Blanca, his
daughter-in-law. Francisco designated his son, Frank, as
independent executor of the Will and as trustee of the
testamentary trust created by the Will.
Will was probated, and Frank qualified as independent
executor of the estate and trustee of the trust. The real
property located in Von Ormy, Texas which is referred to as
the "Ranch" was the primary property in
Francisco's residuary estate. The Will devised the
residuary estate to a trust. Blanca, Frank, and two of
Francisco's other children were the beneficiaries of the
lawsuit, Blanca alleged that when Frank decided to sell the
Ranch, he told family members they would be given an
opportunity to match any offer he received. After Frank
listed the Ranch for sale, Blanca made various offers to
purchase it, including a March 2016 offer for $240, 000.00.
Despite these offers, on May 20, 2016, Frank entered into a
contract, on behalf of the Francisco Rodriguez Estate, to
sell the Ranch to Christians for $259, 900.00. Upon learning
about Christians's offer, Blanca made another offer to
purchase the Ranch for $265, 000.00. When Frank refused to accept
Blanca's offer, Blanca filed the underlying lawsuit
seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction to
prevent Frank from conveying the Ranch to Christians. In her
pleadings, Blanca alleged the contract between Frank and
Christians violated a right of first refusal contained in the
trust in favor of the trust beneficiaries.
intervened in the suit seeking specific performance of the
contract to purchase the Ranch. Blanca and Christians filed
competing summary judgment motions pertaining to whether
Frank had the authority to sell the Ranch and whether the
trust contained a right of first refusal in favor of the
trust's beneficiaries. After hearing the arguments on the
competing summary judgment motions, the trial court denied
Blanca's summary judgment motion in its entirety, granted
Christians' summary judgment motion, and ordered Frank to
perform his obligations under the contract. The trial court
severed all claims and issues by and between Frank or Blanca
and Christians into a new cause.
appeal, Blanca contends the trust's language created a
right of first refusal in favor of the trust beneficiaries.
Christians counters Frank acted within the powers given under
the Will as independent executor and trustee of the trust.
More specifically, Christians contends Frank was given the
express power to sell the Ranch and the trust's language
did not create a right of first refusal in favor of the trust
Standard of Review
prevail on a traditional motion for summary judgment, the
movant must show "there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and the [movant] is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(c); see also
Diversicare Gen. Partner, Inc. v. Rubio, 185 S.W.3d 842,
846 (Tex. 2005). An appellate court generally reviews a trial
court's granting of a summary judgment de novo.
Valence Operating Co. v. Dorsett, 164 S.W.3d 656,
661 (Tex. 2005). Because the parties filed competing motions
for summary judgment, and the trial court granted
Christians's motion and denied Blanca's motion, we
"determine all questions presented, and if the trial
court erred, render the judgment the trial court should have
rendered." Sw. Bell Tel., L.P. v. Emmett, 459
S.W.3d 578, 583 (Tex. 2015).
Terms of the Will and Trust
begin our analysis by examining the specific terms of the
Will and the trust created by the Will.
Disposition of Estate ...