Trust litigation is an often confusing and difficult field of law to understand. In order to better grasp the application of trust litigation, the example of Texas veteran Lee Roy “Cowboy” Hoskins Sr. (1922-1985) is helpful to examine.
When he passed, Cowboy left two considerable Testamentary Trusts in his will: a Marital Deduction Trust and a Residuary Trust. The key difference between these two trusts were the beneficiaries. The Marital Deduction Trust’s only beneficiary was Cowboy’s wife, Hazel; while the Residuary Trust had eleven beneficiaries, including Hazel, his three sons, and seven grandsons. Crucially, the trustee in both cases was Hazel Hoskins.
In the years following Hazel’s inheritance of the trusts, multiple trust litigations lawsuits were filed, dividing the family and culminating in her removal as the trustee of both the Marital Deduction and Residuary Trusts. The grounds for these lawsuits concerned Hazel violating the terms of both the trusts and Cowboy’s will. Leonard, one of Cowboy’s sons, filed a lawsuit alleging Hazel had breached the Residuary Trust by transferring property from Cowboy’s estate to another one of the sons, Clifton. The suit between family members was ordered into arbitration, where in Hazel was found in breach of trust and Clifton was deemed innocent of wrongdoing.
The arbitrator referred to Texas Property Code 114.008(a)(5) in order to remedy Hazel’s breach of trust. Under this provision, a designated neutral “receiver” was appointed by the arbitrator to receive and administrate the trusts. This decision was confirmed, but was delayed by another suit filed by Rex Hoskins, the son of Leonard Hoskins, who had filed the first suit.
This separate trust litigation alleged the same claims, that Hazel had breached the Residuary Trust by transferring property from Cowboy’s Estate, but also alleged that Hazel had violated the conditions of Cowboy’s will by never providing an accounting of the trust to the beneficiaries. The result of this litigation was the probate court upholding the allegations and Hazel subsequently resigning as the trustee of each trust.
These lengthy pieces of litigation had taken nearly a decade to come to a resolution, when the receiver Marcus P. Rogers took administrative control of both of Cowboy’s trusts in 2016. The length and complexity of this trust litigation emphasizes the necessity for aggressive and effective attorneys that can resolve trust proceedings successfully.