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Top 20 Texas Family Law CasesCase 8: IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF HANAU.

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF HANAU is an important case for all San Antonio family lawyers because it is the first time the Supreme Court affirmed a like sum tracing method to determine if property is separate or community property.

Sum Tracing Method for San Antonio Family Attorneys

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF HANAU, 730 S.W.2d 663 (Tex. 1987)


Robert and Dorris were married in Illinois, and five years later moved to Texas. Robert died in Texas in 1982. Dorris, as executor of Robert’s estate, delivered property to the children of the marriage, Steven and Leslie Ann.

Subsequently, Steven brought a suit to remove Dorris as executor, claiming that she had mismanaged the estate. Dorris then requested to have the stock previously given to the children, returned to the estate. Therefore, the Court had to determine the characterization of the stock purchased in Illinois by Robert’s separate estate.

The trial court found that the Supreme Court’s decision in Cameron applied to all proceedings, including probate proceedings. The court of appeals held that Cameron did not apply to probate matters and classified the stock as Robert’s separate property. The court of appeals also held, as to one particular stock (TransWorld), that there was not sufficient tracing to make a determination that the stock was the separate property of Robert.

The Court Decision

The Texas Supreme Court held that the holding in Cameron cannot and will not be extended to probate matters in Texas. Using the like sum inference approach to tracing, the Court determined that there was clear evidence that the stock in the brokerage account was purchased with Robert’s separate property.

Significance of Case

The holding, in this case, is significant because it is the first time the Supreme Court affirmed a like sum tracing method. Additionally, the Court confirmed its extensive reasoning in Cameron – so much so, that the reasoning in no way could apply to probate matters.

Top 20 Texas Family Law Cases: HOLLEY v. ADAMS

The next case on our list is HOLLEY v. ADAMS. This case deals with “the best interest” standard for Texas divorce cases.



Justin Morely | Family Law Attorney San Antonio

Justin Morley

Justin Morley primarily practices family law at Langley & Banack’s San Antonio and New Braunfels locations. Mr. Morley’s family law experience includes divorce, child custody, visitation, complex property divisions, alimony, paternity issues, prenuptial agreements, and adoption cases. He is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and a frequent writer and speaker on family law topics. Scene S.A named Mr. Morley a Rising Star in 2011 and one of the Best S.A. Lawyers in 2015.

Kristal Thomson | Family Lawyer San Antonio

Kristal Thomson

Kristal Thomson is a family law specialist, board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She focuses on divorces with complex or high net worth estates and complicated custody issues. Her expertise is recognized state-wide through her numerous writing and speaking engagements and involvement in various family law related leadership positions. Ms. Thomson is one of only ten lawyers in San Antonio elected as a fellow to the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Specialists.


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