Appeal from the Probate Court No. 4 Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 449332
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Lloyd, and
a probate proceeding concerning the estate of Vahak A.
Khoikan. Appellant Anahid Prigmore is Khoikan's sister.
Appellee Tina S. Mantooth was Khoikan's common-law wife,
and she is the mother of Khoikan's only child, J.K., a
minor. Mantooth argues that this court lacks jurisdiction
over this appeal because the notice of appeal was untimely
filed. We agree, and we dismiss this appeal for lack of
and Procedural History
Khoikan died intestate on May 24, 2016, leaving an estate
worth approximately $10 million. He was survived by his
common-law wife, Mantooth; his son, J.K.; and his sister,
Prigmore. Mantooth filed an application for determination of
heirship and for letters of administration. The trial court
appointed an attorney ad litem to represent the interest of
any heirs who were unknown or under a legal disability,
filed a cross-application for letters of administration,
seeking to be appointed administrator of the estate and
asserting that, as J.K.'s paternal aunt, she was a person
"interested" in his welfare. See Tex. Est.
Code § 22.018. Prigmore also filed an answer in
"the interest of the decedent's minor son and for
his protection as the sole heir" of Khoikan's
estate. She specifically denied that Mantooth was
Khoikan's spouse, but she admitted that J.K. was
Khoikan's son and that she had no pecuniary interest in
her brother's estate.
filed a motion in limine challenging Prigmore's standing.
She argued that Prigmore is not her brother's legal heir
and that Prigmore was not otherwise an "interested
person" because she did not represent J.K. in any
capacity and she had no pecuniary interest in the estate or
in J.K.'s welfare. On April 6, 2018, the trial court
granted Mantooth's motion, dismissed Prigmore's
cross-application for letters of administration, and struck
Prigmore's pleadings from the record.
April 6, the trial court signed: (1) a judgment declaring
heirship and finding that Mantooth is Khoikan's surviving
spouse and J.K. is his son; (2) an order approving a family
settlement agreement and mutual release and appointing a
permanent dependent administrator; (3) an order setting aside
J.K.'s house as his homestead and ordering that it may
not be used to satisfy any debts of the estate; (4) an order
denying Prigmore's motion for discovery via subpoenas;
and (5) an order denying Prigmore's motion for genetic
testing of J.K. On April 19, 2018, the trial court
withdrew the April 6, 2018 judgment declaring heirship in
order to correct an error, and it signed a new judgment
declaring heirship. On May 4, 2018, Prigmore filed a motion
for new trial, which was denied on May 15, 2018. On July 31,
2018, Prigmore filed a notice of appeal.
brief, Prigmore asserts that she is appealing from all the
orders signed on April 6, 2018, as well as the April 19, 2018
judgment declaring heirship and the May 15, 2018 denial of
her motion for new trial. In her brief, Prigmore argues that
there is a disputed question of fact about whether Mantooth
was Khoikan's common-law wife. Prigmore also argues that
the trial court erred by holding that she lacked standing,
and by "holding categorically that a blood relative
without a pecuniary interest lacks standing" under
section 22.018 of the Texas Estates Code.
asserts that this court lacks jurisdiction because the notice
of appeal was untimely filed. In particular, Mantooth argues
that the April 6, 2018 order granting the motion in limine,
dismissing Prigmore's claims, and striking her pleadings
was a final order for the purpose of appeal and that the July
31 notice of appeal was untimely. We agree.
appeals may be taken only from final judgments. Lehmann
v. Har Con Corp., 39 S.W.3d 191, 195 (Tex.
2001). "Probate proceedings are an exception to the
'one final judgment' rule; in such cases,
'multiple judgments final for purposes of appeal can be
rendered on certain discrete issues.'" De Ayala
v. Mackie, 193 S.W.3d 575, 578 (Tex. 2006)
(quoting Lehmann, 39 S.W.3d at 192). Because not
every interlocutory order in a probate case is appealable,
the Texas Supreme Court has adopted the following test for
If there is an express statute, such as the one for the
complete heirship judgment, declaring the phase of the
probate proceedings to be final and appealable, that statute
controls. Otherwise, if there is a proceeding of which the
order in question may logically be considered a part, but one
or more pleadings also part of that proceeding ...