Carroll v. Carroll, No. 08-0644 (Tex. Jan. 22, 2010)(per curiam)(proceedings concerning trust, trustee removal,
suit for accounting belong in district court, not county court)
JOHNNY CARROLL, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS TRUSTEE OF THE JOHNNY CARROLL TRUST v. LETHA
FRANCES CARROLL AND DONALD CARROLL; from Hill County; 10th district (10-07-00006-CV, ___ SW3d
Pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 59.1, after granting the petition for review and without hearing
oral argument, the Court reverses the court of appeals' judgment, vacates the county court's judgment, and
remands the case to the county court.
Removal of a trustee, an accounting by a trustee, and appointment of a successor trustee are all “proceedings
concerning a trust” expressly governed by the statute and fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the district
court. Tex. Prop. Code § 115.001(a). As such, transfer to the Hill County Court at Law was improper because it
was apparent from the pleadings that the county court lacked jurisdiction over the claims. Because the Hill
County Court at Law had no jurisdiction over the claims, its judgment was void. See State ex rel. Latty v.
Owens, 907 S.W.2d 484, 485 (Tex. 1995). Because the county court’s judgment was void, we do not reach
Johnny’s other arguments challenging the judgment.
The term ‘trust’ refers not to a separate legal entity but rather to the fiduciary relationship governing the trustee
with respect to the trust property.” Huie v. DeShazo, 922 S.W.2d 920, 926 (Tex. 1996) (“The term ‘trust’ refers
not to a separate legal entity but rather to the fiduciary relationship governing the trustee with respect to the
A trust is not a legal entity; rather it is a “fiduciary relationship with respect to property.” High fiduciary
standards are imposed upon trustees, who must handle trust property solely for the beneficiaries’ benefit.
 A fiduciary “occupies a position of peculiar confidence towards another.” Accordingly, a trustee’s
association with the trust is that of a relationship or a status. Because a trustee’s fiduciary role is a status,
courts acting within their explicit statutory discretion should be authorized to terminate the trustee’s relationship
with the trust at any time, without the application of a limitations period.
By analogy, the marital relationship between spouses is a fiduciary relationship. That special relationship is
of course more than the sum of discrete actions taken by one spouse toward another. If, for example, cruelty
and adultery are recognized grounds for divorce, a spouse suing for divorce on those grounds should not
be tasked to sue for divorce within a specific statutory limitations period. The effect of that conduct on the
special relationship of trust and confidence between spouses may continue and change over time. And indeed,
Texas law recognizes marriage as a status, and there is no statutory limitations provision expressly directed
at divorce actions. Ditta v. Conte, No. 07-1026 (Tex. Jun. 5, 2009) (Willett) (removal of trustee, statute of
limitations does not apply, trustee may be removed at any time, but suit for breach of fiduciary duty subject to
 Huie v. DeShazo, 922 S.W.2d 920, 926 (Tex. 1996) (“The term ‘trust’ refers not to a separate legal entity
but rather to the fiduciary relationship governing the trustee with respect to the trust property.”).
 Tex. Prop. Code § 111.004(4).
 Humane Soc’y of Austin & Travis County v. Austin Nat'l Bank, 531 S.W.2d 574, 577 (Tex. 1975).
 See Tex. Prop. Code § 111.004(4).
 Kinzbach Tool Co. v. Corbett-Wallace Corp., 160 S.W.2d 509, 512 (Tex. 1942).
 See Schlueter v. Schlueter, 975 S.W.2d 584, 589 (Tex. 1998).
 See Tex. Fam. Code §§ 6.002-.003.
 See Saltarelli v. Saltarelli, 670 S.W.2d 785, 785 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 1984, no writ) (“marriage is not a
contract, but a status created by the mutual consent of two people”); see also In re M.S.B., 611 S.W.2d 704,
706 (Tex. Civ. App.—San Antonio 1980, no writ) (also describing marriage as a status).
Ditta v. Conte, No. 07-1026 (Tex. Jun. 5, 2009) (Willett) (removal of trustee, statute of limitations does not
apply, trustee may be removed at any time, but suit for breach of fiduciary duty subject to four-year SoL)
No statute of limitations period applies in a trustee-removal suit. Trusts are fiduciary relationships, and as such,
their nature and character often change throughout the years of administration, as the Trust here did. Because
the court of appeals decided this case on the limitations issue, it did not reach issues relating to the merits of
Ditta’s removal action, the reformation of the Trust, or the appointment of Frost Bank as successor trustee.
Accordingly, we reverse the court of appeals’ judgment and remand the case to that court for consideration of