Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas
Appeal from the Probate Court No. 2 Dallas County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. PR-11-03677-2
Justices Brown, Whitehill, and Schenck
J. SCHENCK, JUSTICE
Aihara ("Aihara") appeals the probate court's
order removing her as administrator of the Estate of Brian
Matsuo Sakima, deceased, and appointing a successor
administrator. On appeal, Aihara contends the probate court
erred in removing her as the administrator and by failing to
enter findings of fact and conclusions of law. We affirm the
trial court's order. Because all issues are settled in
law, we issue this memorandum opinion. Tex.R.App.P. 47.4.
Sakima passed away at the age of 61. Although Sakima was a
resident of Texas, all of his relatives reside in Hawaii.
Sakima was survived by his mother, four sisters, and a
brother. In 2011, Aihara, who is one of Sakima's sisters,
filed an application for letters of administration seeking to
serve as the administrator of Sakima's estate. The
probate court appointed Aihara administrator.
the pendency of this case, Aihara filed various accountings
that the probate court determined were not proper and on at
least three occasions, the probate court issued an order to
show cause why Aihara should not be removed as the
administrator of the estate. The last accounting filed by
Aihara indicated that the estate had $30, 921 in cash and $8,
000 in proceeds from an insurance claim for hail damage to
the home Sakima owned.
trial court issued its final show cause order on April 5,
2018, stating it appeared that Aihara had misapplied all or a
part of the property committed to her care as required by
law, failed to file a proper account, or is guilty of gross
misconduct or management in the performance of her duties.
The show-cause order stated Aihara should be cited to appear
in the court and show cause why she should not be removed
5, 2018, the court held a show cause hearing. Aihara did not
appear at the hearing. Her attorney was present. At the
hearing, the probate court judge questioned why Aihara was
not present despite the order directing her to appear. The
probate court judge asked Aihara's attorney if he brought
the insurance claim proceeds check in the amount of $8, 000,
indicating that questions relating to those proceeds prompted
the show-cause order. At the hearing, Aihara's attorney
explained the insurance company issued the check in the
amount of $8, 000 payable to the mortgage company and the
personal representative. He stated the check had not been
negotiated because the mortgage company refused to endorse
the check over to the estate. He further indicated that the
insurer would not reissue the check payable to the estate
only. The probate court then questioned him about the
property that was subject to a mortgage and Aihara's
attorney revealed that the deceased had owned a home in Las
Colinas and that during the pendency of this case the lender
had foreclosed on the property. Counsel indicated that, in
connection with the foreclosure, Aihara obtained a release
from the lender on claims against the estate.
probate court judge noted the age of the case and wondered
aloud why an estate with a foreclosed home and a $30, 000
bank account was still open after seven years, and why the
$8, 000 check had not been negotiated. At the conclusion of
the hearing, the court announced that it was going to remove
Aihara as administrator for failure to make a proper
accounting. The probate court judge then stated,
"I'm going to go over a couple things here in the
file so you can understand why I'm removing her."
The court then noted that it had "show caused"
Aihara on April 5, 2018, for failure to file a proper
account, as well as for possible misconduct or mismanagement
in the performance of her duties. The court also noted Aihara
failed to appear. The court then detailed the history of
filings of improper accounts, and notifications concerning
same. The court stated Aihara had been ordered to show cause
three times. The assets had not changed significantly over
the life of the case, Aihara is still dealing with the same
bank accounts, the vehicle Sakima had owned was abandoned,
his house had gone into foreclosure, and Aihara cannot
navigate the negotiation of a single $8, 000 check. In
addition, the probate court stated Aihara had been ordered on
at least two occasions to file a proper final accounting and
yet still failed to do so.
26, 2018, the probate court entered its order removing Aihara
as the administrator and appointing a successor
administrator. On August 15, 2018, appellant requested that
the probate court enter findings of fact and conclusions of
law. Aihara gave notice of past due findings of fact and
conclusions of law. This appeal followed. 
court's order removing an administrator is reviewed under
an abuse of discretion standard. In re Estate of
Miller, 243 S.W.3d 831, 839 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2008, no
pet.). A trial court abuses its discretion if it acts in an
arbitrary or unreasonable manner without reference to any
guiding rules or principles. Downer v. Aquamarine
Operators, Inc., 701 S.W.2d 238, 241- 242 (Tex. 1985).
Under an abuse of discretion review, the appellate court is
not free to substitute its own judgment for the trial
court's judgment. Bowie Mem'l Hosp. v.
Wright, 79 S.W.3d 48, 52 (Tex. 2002). Under an abuse of
discretion standard of review, an appellate court must make
an independent inquiry of the entire record to determine if
the trial court abused its discretion. In re Estate of
Clark, 198 S.W.3d 273, 275 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2006, pet.
denied) (citing Chrysler Corp. v. Blackmon, 841
S.W.2d 844, 853 (Tex.1992) (orig. proceeding)).
personal representative may be removed by the court if the
representative: (1) has misapplied, embezzled all or a part
of the property entrusted to the representative's care;
(2) fails to return any account required by law to be made;
(3) fails to obey a proper order of the court; (4) is guilty
of gross misconduct or mismanagement in the performance of
the representative's duties; (5) becomes incapacitated,
is sentenced to the penitentiary, or from any other cause,
becomes incapable of properly performing the duties of the
representative's trust, or (6) fails to make a final
settlement by the third anniversary of the date letters
testamentary or of administration are granted, unless the
period is ...