My mother passed away with out a will. We live in Texas. She didn't have much just her home which is paid for. There are 4 of us. My oldest sister lived/lives with her in the house. My mom was in and out of the hospital a lot and I am sure there are tons of medical bills. My question is what happens to the house if her assets don't cover all of the medical bills? Does my sister and her family have to leave the home? I am so worried because my other sister wants to sell the house and divide equally between all of us but that still leaves my oldest sister and her family out of a home. On top of the grieving from losing my mother I am stressed out that my family will be broken apart because of this!

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Well, it's nice and clear for once: I quote -

" (b) The person's estate descends and passes to the person's children and the children's descendants."

I very much sympathise with your anxiety about what now happens to your sister; but the fact is, unless your resident sister can establish some other right to the property, that the house now belongs equally to all four of you. If your sister doesn't want to leave it, and there isn't enough money in the form of other assets to satisfy creditors and the rights of the other three of you, then she is going to have to buy you out. She will need to find the cash equivalent of three fourths of the value of the house. Or even, since you mention medical debts, possibly more than that.

You can Google "probate court for [your bit of Texas]", type "intestacy" into its search function, and get the information about the process there.

How to head off family ructions: emphasise that nothing has to be done in a *hurry* - best anyway, because nothing is going to happen in a hurry whether one or more of you wants it to or not. The four of you have only just lost your mother. Your resident sister, especially, is going to have a lot to recover from. See if you can get everyone to agree to full fact-finding *before* there can be any discussion of what to do with what remains of the estate - I hope that will give you some breathing space.

To be honest, though, unless she's got an awful lot of money or has a good enough income to take out a mortgage, your resident sister would do best to expect to move house. Just, it doesn't have to be now this minute.

Are you anticipating any particular flashpoints about this?
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AlvaDeer Jul 11, 2019
There are some very good you tube things about how to file to get probate started and to administer without a will, be appointed to be the one selling and dividing the property evenly.
bg0884, my heartfelt sympathy to you and your family.

As others had mentioned, if there is no Will or a Trust and there are assets involved [such as the house], then you need to go to Probate Court. Depending on your State laws would be how Judge decided the estate is divided...... after all of Mom's bills are paid.

It isn't unusual for Probate to take months or up to a year to be finished, it depends on the workload of the Probate division.

In the mean time, your Mom's estate or someone in the family will need to keep up the payments on the house such as real estate taxes, homeowner's insurance, utilities, repairs and maintenance.

Talk with an Elder Law Attorney to see what is the best route to take.
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bg, everyone saying get probate started is correct, but if you and your siblings can have a plan, ie sister living in home will continue to live there and maintain the property and all associated expenses and the rest of you, barring one, would like to give her the house and she can get a mortgage to buy the other sister out, the judge will consider and probably agree, you will need to have an appraisal with fair market value comparisons, a real estate agent can help you with this, your sister will need an appraisal to get a mortgage.

Put a package together that shows how long she has provided care, a notarized letter from all siblings that are willing to let her have the house, perhaps she can stay as long as she continues to maintain it and at the point she sells then you guys get your share or your heirs, a lien on the property is fairly easy to accomplish with the proper court paperwork. Also, if she has been paying anything towards the house that should also be disclosed.

The judge can approve the plan as long as everything is within the law. Of course moms bills have to be paid, so that information should be included, listed by creditors, amounts due and how it will be paid.

If you guys can do that you will probably get what you desire for your sister.

Kudos to you for caring about your mom's caregivers, who happen to be your sister and her family. So many siblings don't appreciate what caregiving really entails and they are not nice to the caregiving sibling once the parent has passed. 👍
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The siblings do not have to sale the home now. Assuming there is enough money to cover Mom's bills (or the heirs are willing to mortgage the house jointly), the probate court can deed the house to all 4 heirs and it can be sold later. The heirs can even grant the care giver sibling a life time estate or a period of time she can continue to live in the house as long as she pays the taxes, insurance, and required repairs.

I encourage family to act with compassion and not push the care giver sibling out of the house quickly. If she cannot afford to buy everyone out of their share, please give her and her family time to mourn your mother and transition out of the house, maybe a year or two. In our extended family, the siblings that forced the immediate sale of the house after the parent's death caused enough hard feelings the siblings no longer all speak to each other. The siblings that gave the care giver two years to move out actually ended up selling the house about 14 months later amicably.
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If only one sibling is interested in getting their inheritance right away, perhaps the sister living in the house can buy her share of the house.

It is only fair if they have been caregiving for mom that they have the option to buy you all out. They don't deserve the house free because of it, they had the benefit of not paying rent, not that that begins to cover the care provided, but they should have some consideration from the siblings that were saved the worries of mom because she lived there and cared for mom.

I am sorry for your loss. It is difficult to look at these situations when the loss is so fresh. Take time and encourage your siblings to figure out how everyone can get what they want. Your sister may have to apply for a mortgage and that can take some time. Hopefully everyone can wait.

I would make sure that the medical bills have been billed properly and what Medicare has paid before paying anything, there are annual maximum out of pocket expenses. Did she have any other insurance? It is not uncommon for bills to get sent out before Medicare has processed them, it is important to make sure that whole process is done before paying any bill.

My dad did this to his sister and her children scraped the money together to buy him out. They still resent him for his attitude and his demands that it happen quickly.

Hugs! It is a difficult situation.
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God bless you. My brother (mlm's Trustee) threw my family and me out of my mom's house the day after my mom's funeral, after we cared for her for 20 years. And my mom even stipulated in her Trust that I could live in the house after her death. I have been fighting my brother in court for my rights since her death in August. You are a good sister and person. I hope you can work it out.
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earlybird Jul 9, 2019
I am sorry for the loss of your mother. I know it is difficult, and you certainly do not need the grief your brother is causing you. I am glad you are fighting for your rights. Do you have a life estate?
I think you are wonderful for taking care of your mother for twenty years. She was very fortunate to have such a caring daughter.I hope and pray things work out for you.
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Lot's of good suggestions and info here, I would echo that at least an inital informational meeting with a coupke of perspective estate attorneys would be a great idea. They will usually do a meet and greet to talk about the basics of your situation free as part of the selection process and they will also be able to give you an idea of how much it will cost to have them get involved in the process but at the very least they will give you feedback about the ways to proceed.

I too commend you on wanting to act as mediarry and coordinator if need be for your family on this, I have no doubt your mom assumed your sister and her family would just stay in the house and simply never thought about the possabilities of problems not making her wishes clear in writing might cause.

My mother was the long term live in caregiver for her mother (my GM) and the way my GM set it up (she did it legally) my mother has Life Use of the house, meaning she can live there as long as she wants while alive but is responsible for the taxes and upkeep, house is paid for. Upon her moving or death the house is to be sold, siblings have first right of refusal I think and then their descendants, the profits to be split evenly between the 4 siblings and their descendants. It's very fair, my mom doesn't get tossed out of her home and she and her siblings inherit equally. She is also co-executor with the attorney who set it all up and is a family friend of the estate.

As far as the medical bill portion of your question, was mom on Medicaid? Did she have a Medicare supplemental policy? She may not have as many bills as you fear and this is one of the reasons it's reccomended things be left open for a while so no big suprise bills show up after things have been settled and distributed. If sister and family were living with and caring for mom was she handeling bills as well? Did anyone have POA or was anyone listed on a bank account? How were the household expenses being paid? These are all things to find out because it will have a bearing on what you all can and can't do. For now if I were in your place I would have a disscussion with sister who wants to sell the house now about just how unfair that seems to you and at least convince her to slow down and not run her mouth off about sister and family having to move out ASAP until the blow of loosing mom has passed a bit and you have delved into the estate stuff and have a better idea of the options. It might be a mute point for instance and no one has to be the bad guy but right now you all need to grieve in your own ways and particularly the people who lived with mom need time to adjust to that loss without having to think about loosing their home unless they choose to bring that up. Then have a conversation with the sister who has been living with mom and ask her what you can do to help. Give her the option to be in charge if she wants but offer to take some of or all of the burden and while doing that get the info about how things have been operating and who is on what accounts, what preparations might have been made with mom.

This is a tough time for all of you to be sure but it's a special kind of difficult for each member and particularly your sister, of the family who has been living with and caring for mom. I know you know that based on your question and concern but I'm not sure your other sister has considered that. Giving them time and space, especially if there are children/grandchildren in that family, seems so important to me and a great gift you can give. Focus on the celebration of mom's life right now and making sure everyone has time to grieve before getting into too much in fighting if you possible can. It will benefit everyone even if they don't know that now. Sending positive energy and strength your way!
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No one can do anything until u go to probate. Mom had no will so now the state gets involved. Someone has to be made administrator. Without a short certificate no one will deal with you. Moms debts will have to be looked at. These must be paid. The state may have to determine what happens with the house. Thats not ur sisters decision.

I think the first thing you need to do is get Moms bills together. Besides getting an invoice for services you will get a statement from Medicare showing what they covered and one from her suppliment. You may be surprised that Mom doesn't owe as much as u think. Did she have a Life insurance policy? Did she retire from her job with years of service. She could have a policy with them. Check her bank for any CDs or IRAs.

If everything works out that she has enough assets to pay bills, then u go on with the house. Did sister living there pay the upkeep, pay taxes, utilities ect. If not, then she was Moms Caregiver. Did the other siblings help? In a perfect family I would allow the sister to stay in the home as long as she paid bills and keep. Maybe pay rent to the rest. Or, she buys the rest of u out. Lets say the house is worth 200k, she pays the other 3 50k ea. But if Moms bills outweigh her assets, then the house may have to be sold, bills paid and whats left split between the 4 of u.
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You might want to have a look at this site:

Looks like assets, however meager, will be divvied up via Texas Probate Code. BTW: the probate process can take a few months to settle everything.

Best to you.
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Normally any remaining assets must be used to pay any remaining bills. The house may need to be sold to pay those bills, unless the siblings agree to get together to pay the bills so the house doesn't need to be sold immediately. If the siblings can agree, you might all relinquish your interest in the house in favor of your sister who did most of the caregiving over the years. Yes, you will be losing some $$$ but you will gain much in other ways, and it will be a big help to your sister, as she was to your mother and all of you who didn't have to worry about your mom. You could arrange that if the house is later sold, or in the case that siblings outlive the sister and brother in law, the proceeds of the house sale be divided amont remaining siblings. For all this you need a lawyer. In any case, think about not insisting that your sister leave the home quickly. This loss after the loss of your mother will be so much for her to bear at one time.
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