Please Release Me, Let Me Go: Court Affirms The Appointment Of A Receiver Over Ray Price’s Assets Pending A Contest

by Winstead PC
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In In re Estate of Price, Ray Price, a renowned country music singer and songwriter, died in 2013 and was survived by his wife and his biological son. No. 06-16-00062-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 1265 (Tex. App.—Texarkana February 15, 2017, no pet. history).

Crazy Arms [And Maybe Mind?]. Shortly before Price’s death, and while he was in the hospital, he transferred most of his assets to his spouse via various deeds and assignment documents. The spouse’s sister, who was a secretary, drafted the various documents. The spouse and son filed competing motions to probate wills purportedly executed by Price, as well as competing will contests.

Heartaches By The Number. The court appointed a temporary administrator, but almost all of the assets did not belong to the estate due to the last-minute transfers to the spouse. So, the son filed an application to appoint a temporary administrator as receiver over the assets purportedly transferred to the spouse in the month of Price’s death. The son alleged that Price did not have the mental capacity to execute the documents. The application for the receiver argued that the spouse had possession and control over all of the contested assets and that she could sell them or “allow them to waste away as she is currently doing.”

The Same Old Me [I Swear!]. The trial court appointed a receiver to take possession of property subject to the will contests. The spouse alleged that Price had capacity to execute the transfer documents, and appealed that order. The court of appeals cited to Section 64.001(a)(3) of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code that provides that a court may appoint a receiver in an action between parties jointly interested in any property.” The court noted that before a court can appoint a receiver under subsection (a)(3), the court must find that the party seeking appointment of the receiver has “a probable interest in or right to the property or fund, and the property or fund must be in danger of being lost, removed, or materially injured.” Even though “[a] receiver appointed pursuant to section 64.001(a) and (b) of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code is not required to show that no other adequate remedy exists,” “[t]he appointment of a receiver is a harsh, drastic, and extraordinary remedy, which must be used cautiously.” “In determining whether the trial court erred in appointing a receiver, ‘[o]ur review focuses on whether the pleadings and evidence are sufficient to justify a receivership.’”

For The Good Times [If You Are The Son]. The court of appeals determined that due to the contest to the transfers, the son had a showing of the requisite interest in the property. The court also determined that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that there was a danger that the property would be lost, removed, or materially injured: “The trial court heard evidence that Janie had disposed of, and believed she could dispose of, assets subject to the will contests and Clifton’s petition to set aside the December 9 documents. In light of the pleadings and evidence presented in this case, we will not disturb the trial court’s finding that property Clifton had a probable right or interest in was in danger of being lost, removed, or materially injured.” Therefore, the court of appeals affirmed the appointment of the receiver.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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