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Trusts and Estates No. 14-02-01282-CV, 7/24/2003. Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Rawle Andrews died on July 12, 2001, leaving behind him substantial tax liabilities. Shortly thereafter, his son was appointed executor of his estate and a dependent administration was opened. Aldine Independent School District filed a probate claim against the estate on Nov. 16, 2001, asserting delinquent ad valorem taxes of $217,318. No action was taken on the claim. Six months later, Aldine notified the estate’s representative it had posted three of the properties for foreclosure sale. This suit ensued. Both parties moved for summary judgment. The estate’s representative sought a declaration that Aldine’s claims were barred by limitations, as it failed to file suit within 90 days after its claims were rejected by operation of law. Aldine sought the taxes and foreclosure. The Probate Court granted Aldine’s motion and denied the representative’s. HOLDINGReversed and rendered. Aldine filed a claim with the estate’s representative, thus opting for probate jurisdiction. By opting for probate jurisdiction, Aldine subjected its claim to the rules governing enforcement of claims in probate proceedings. The Pursuant to those rules, when the estate’s representative took no action on the claim within 30 days, so it was deemed rejected by operation of law. Once a claim against an estate is rejected, the claimant must file suit within 90 days or the claim is forever barred. Aldine did not. Assuming �5C applies, Aldine’s claim appears to be barred. Aldine concedes this case falls within the express applicability provision of �5C. But it argues �5C does not apply here for three other reasons. First, Aldine argues the section only applies to “claims for money,” while its claims are “in rem.” The court disagrees. Section 5C mentions only “claims,” not “claims for money.” The Probate Code defines “claims” to include “liabilities of a decedent which survive, including taxes.” Aldine’s claim for unpaid taxes clearly falls within the term “claims” actually used in the section. Aldine’s distinction between “in personam” and “in rem” proceedings is irrelevant, because the legislature used neither term in defining jurisdiction in �5C. Second, even if �5C applied only to “claims for money,” Aldine’s claim qualifies. Aldine’s probate filing stated a claim “for the payment of delinquent ad valorem taxes,” not a claim for title or possession of any real properties. The only attachments to its claim were delinquent tax statements, not the judgments ordering foreclosure. Aldine’s claim was clearly a claim for money. Aldine argues it was not required to present a probate claim, and thus rejection of its claim did not invoke the 90-day limitations period. This court and others have applied just such a rule to allow recovery of title against an estate even when no suit was filed within 90 days of rejection. But in those cases, the creditor was asserting a vendor’s lien, and thus had a superior claim to title. Aldine has only lien claims; it has no claim to the properties beyond the amount it was owed for taxes. The judgments it had obtained ordered foreclosure of its tax liens on some of the properties, but did not transfer title to Aldine or extinguish the tax liens. As noted above, the claim Aldine actually filed was a claim for money secured by a lien. Aldine is indistinguishable from other creditors holding liens as security, and the Probate Code has specific methods for presenting and handling such claims. And it grants them priority in payment. These provisions would be rendered superfluous if such claims never had to be filed. Additionally, dependent administration under the Probate Code is intended to ensure the orderly disposition of a decedent’s estate, and Aldine’s argument would thwart this purpose. If taxing units may foreclose on and sell estate property at any time during an administration without court approval, it will be difficult for the court or creditors to know what assets the estate has. As taxing units have no interest in such properties beyond the taxes due on them, they may sell at prices below what others might obtain, thus decreasing the estate that remains for other creditors or heirs. Section 5C recognizes this interest in orderly administration, specifically barring suits by taxing units that do not file a probate claim from bringing suit in any other court until four years after the probate proceedings began. It is true �5C allows taxing units to opt out of probate proceedings in the same county. But if they opt out, they must sit on the sidelines for four years. Whatever the prior rule may have been, �5C does not allow Aldine to file a probate claim and then foreclose a few months later ignore probate procedures. There are many statutes restricting the time, place and manner of collections by taxing units. Under Aldine’s argument, they would all be unconstitutional whenever a taxing unit failed to comply with them, as the taxes would then be “released.” The court holds �5C is not a release of taxes. OPINION:Brister, C.J.; Brister, C.J., Fowler and Edelman, JJ.

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