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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.
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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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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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There’s always a nasty battle when a loved one passed away but I will look at it on this way. Your sister and her family‘s been living in mothers house for what period of time years they’ve been taken care of mother years rent free mortgage free you can’t put a price I’ve taken care of a love one that has been the hell it is more work than you ever desired there is more work than probably the house value it’s self .
Do you know that Est. $150,000 in a skilled nursing home yearly just to take care of a love one so if you can take that figure times amount the time of years . She took care of her mother and living in that household upkeep utilities hospitals doctors appointments outings etc. etc. that over exceeds the year if that was me I will give her the house and write myself out of it family members really don’t want the house they didn’t help keep the up keep Of property / taxes . Family just $150,000 in a skilled nursing home yearly just to take care of a love one so if you can take that figure times the time of years that family took care of mother and living in that household upkeep utilities hospitals doctors appointments outings etc. etc. that over exceeds the year if that was me I will give her the house and write myself out of it family members really don’t want the house they didn’t help upkeep the house . Yes they just want funds and expect the party that’s living in the house to get the house sold and then divided between them. But if the sister living in the house if that’s her choice then my mouth is close.
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Lymie61 Jul 9, 2019
Not "always" but I do agree with your thoughts on consideration for the sister and family who lived with and cared for mom.
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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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It is honestly so sad when something like this happens. If others writing the forum now are caretakers of a parent who owns a home they should take this story very much to heart, because had a trust been done Mom could have left the home to all sisters divided equally but given a "life estate" to the sister who gave her care these years which honestly is priceless and could never be repaid. Now it is at the mercy of the sister who wants to sell the home. Probate is step one. Hopefully the sister who cared for the mother can have herself appointed to settle the assets. If there was medicare and supplemental insurance then the costs may not be bad medically; if there was no supplemental then perhaps the house wouldn't even cover the bills. Try to take this a day at a time. If the sister was POA and paying bills for the mother she can now go to an elder care attorney and get assistance to try to settle the estate through probate. If there is no plan in place it can be so difficult. It can be difficult in ANY case, but with no plan, no will, no trust, it is really a mess.
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busymom Jul 9, 2019
Yes, indeed all of us need to be proactive on behalf of ourselves and our loved ones. Thankfully, my parents set up Trusts for themselves. When my mom passed, her little bit of assets went directly to my dad. It did take some time to work through the process, but it eventually all transferred to my dad’s estate/trust. Because my parents had to move out of their home several years before my dad passed away, my dad and I discussed how much it was costing to hold onto the now empty house and how insurance would no longer cover the cost due to no one living there. We fixed up some parts of the house and sold it. The money went into Dad’s Trust account and was later divided equally amongst the heirs (5 of us).

My husband and I are now in our early 60’s. We have a Will, but are working toward meeting with a financial advisor and then meeting with an Elder Care Attorney to get our Will updated and begin the process of establishing Trusts in our names. We’ve heard and felt the struggle with loved ones who didn’t plan for their future or for the event of their death. So on behalf of our children (3), we want to gift them with less stress and hassle at the time (and after) our deaths. We will also prearrange our funeral and pay what expenses we can, as this was a huge help to me personally when both my mom and dad died.
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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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So sorry for your loss, and to have to go through probate and all it involves at the same time will be difficult.  The advice already given sounds good.  Grieve and breathe meanwhile.
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Sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, the estate will have to go into Probate. Hire an estate attorney, he/she will guide you through the process.
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Sorry, unless there ends up some glitch, I have found that Probate has not been that bad. Unless Mom has a big estate I don't see where u need a lawyer to get started.

Someone needs to go to ur County probate now. It can be u. (POA stops at time of death) Since there is no Will, you will be made Administrator. There are some small fees involved. You will get a Short Certificate allowing you to deal with everyone concerning Moms affairs. This will give u the ability to deal with bills owed, the bank, etc. Once I got that, I would go to her bank and ask for a printout of any accounts she has. This will show u checking accts, savings, CDs, IRAs.

I have not closed out Probate yet. I am making settlement on Moms house next week. I do have a lawyer but only because my brother inherited the house and didn't want it. Papers had to be drawn up to put the house back into the estate. He will now follow thru on Probate. Not sure if I would have needed him otherwise. My Mom had no bills when she passed. Owed no one. All she had was the house. So I see no problem with probate. I don't see u needing an elder lawyer if ur Moms estate is small. Any experienced lawyer can do probate. You can get the ball rolling on ur end. If u end up hitting obstacles (like one sister contesting what will be done with the house), then get a lawyer. You may be able to use any money Mom has for his services.

If u don't want this headache, then tell the sibling that will likely take charge what needs to be done. I would also tell the one living in the house to be proactive. As Moms Caregiver she may have some rights. She may want to consult with a lawyer on what those rights are.
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NancyInSc Jul 9, 2019
"Once I got that, I would go to her bank and ask for a printout of any accounts she has. This will show u checking accts, savings, CDs, IRAs. "

Be sure to find out if bank accounts have your sister (or someone else) as a co-signer or co-owner. Sometimes caretakers are co-owners to accounts, and these accounts do not go through probate. They are now the property of the surviving co-owner.

IRAs, insurance policies, etc. that have named beneficiaries (not estate) also do not go though probate.

My father passed away 6 months ago, and I have recent SC probate experience. It varies by state. Since the person scheduled after me had cancelled their appointment, I had a probate judge all to myself for several hours. All my questions were answered, and the judge explained everything I needed to know to settle my father's estate except the trust issues. Fortunately, my father had a current will done in SC. The big problem is dealing with a trust with his business property that was done decades ago in another state.

I told my 94-year old mother she cannot die for a few years, because there is too much paper work to do when someone dies.
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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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You might want to have a look at this site:

https://fordbergner.com/dying-without-a-will-in-texas-what-happens/

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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BG, I am sorry for your loss. Have you checked the actual wording on the home's deed? Sometimes there is a TOD or transfer on death clause written on the deed itself. I wish you and your siblings all the best through this process!
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busymom Jul 9, 2019
Katie, Thanks for pointing out the TOD clause. I had never heard of that, but yes it would be important to check on that in cases such as this.
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I'm So Sorry for your Sad Loss...I lost my own Mom last December but was Only in May to Bury her, Rules of the Upstate cemeteries.
Being she never Made a Will, Her accounts(If any)Will go into a long PROBATE, Will freeze this so Money, Honey, Until after everything is Said Done in the Courts and Then, What is Left will be Divided Between you and the Siblings. It is THEN you Can Sell the House.
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Yes, I believe the house would have to be sold to pay her bills. It will have to go through probate too now because of no will and I think they handle that but you’re going to have to get a lawyer. Unfortunately your mother should have signed over the house while she was alive.
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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
ChiGirl68
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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Im so sorry for your loss. This is such a sad time for you and dealing with everything does not help. My mom passed away last year and she wanted to take care of all the paperwork beforehand but I told her I didn't want to deal with any of that with the little time left I had with her. She didn't have a will or anything. She didn't own a house either. So her assets were below 150,000 so I didn't have to go through probate and luckily im am an only child; only heir. But wow have I had to deal with every thing because I'm technically the heir but also I'm the executor. But since your mom owns a house and you have sibilings it will have to go through probate and you will be appointed an executor who will then take care of all the paperwork then at the end the money that is left will be divided between your sisters. Unfortunately I do not know about your sister having to move out. I think it depends on if everything is taking care of. if not you have to sell the house for the money to take care of it. But it is a long process. I didn't have to go through probate and I'm still dealing with paperwork a year and half later. I'm so sorry you have to go through this. But hopefully your sisters and you won't lose eachother over this. Processions and money are nothing compared to the love of a family. I wish you the best.
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earlybird Jul 9, 2019
Wonderful post. What gentle compassion in your words to bg0884 and sound advice. I am sorry for your loss of your mother. It is so difficult when one loses a parent. It is posts like this one that makes worthwhile reading.
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I am sorry for the loss of your mother. One step at a time. It has only been a few weeks, please give yourself sometime to grieve. You have enough stress right now, please do not worry about the house now. The house will have to be handled through probate court. Have a family meeting to get things done concerning your mother first of all. Your sister needs to step back a bit , decisions do not have to be done right away. My heart goes out to you. I do understand, because I have been through something similar with other family members. Everyone is grieving in different ways. This is a time family should all come together and give each other support. There will be time for the other stuff later. Blessings to you for being so concerned about your sister. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.
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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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First my condolences on the loss of mom. Check with a local atty. Most states have a minimal estate when its only real estate as an asset and you may be able to use a small estate affidavit and have the house put in all of your names. Next use a copy of death certificate and contact each medical debtor and inform them and they may ask for a copy of death certificate. They usually write it off when there is no money unless there is medical insurance, make sure they have the insurance information. That should cover it.
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Before you stress yourself out speculating about what could happen go ahead and make an appointment with the clerk of court when you get the death certificate. Take someone with you to help you remember what the clerk tells you concerning the steps to take. You may find it easier to get a lawyer. My mom just died a month ago but thankfully she was eager to take care of things so that we would not have any trouble when she passed. Only thing I have to handle is the car which was still in her name. The house and some money was in a trust and everything else she had beneficiaries listed. I hope that you and your family will be able to agree on things and not get torn apart. Prayers for you!
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When our neighbor passed she had her daughter still living with her in her family home. They had the property appraised. The price was devided 5 way (number of sibling) and she bought them out. Considering that she had spent most of her time caring for there mom. The remaining family members not not personally responsibe for her debt
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I am very sorry for your loss. We are dealing with part of your predicament now. I agree with Suetiller regarding you mother’s house. My mom in law had a will but despite the counseling of her attorney, she didn’t put the house in my husband’s name and he was the only child.

She received an enormous inheritance from her father and lived very extravagantly all of her life. She had very high credit limits, and ran up all of her credit cards. She also took a 2nd mortgage out on the house.

She gave very little to my husband. He never gave her any problems. He was a good son, and never asked her for anything. It has been very hurtful to him because she refused to put the house in his name.

After she passed, he had to hired an estate attorney. Once the house is sold, all of her bills will have to be paid, which will leave him with nothing but hurtful memories.

It sounds like your mom was a wonderful person. I hope and pray that the love you have for each other will help you through this process.
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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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I'm no attorney, but it sounds like probate. It's probable the hospital will acquire her house to recover costs. Anything that goes into probate can end up paying for outstanding debts. If the house is in your name or any living relative it won't go through probate so they can't touch it.
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Teresa914 Jul 9, 2019
So if my house is in my name and my mom's name, no one can touch it or make me move? I'm in Texas too and mom was denied Medicaid because my brother didn't get the paperwork done on time.
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Sissy has no authority to sell home.

Issue will be determining who has authority to make decision regarding mom’s Estate for both debts/claims against it and distribution of its assets. DPOA now is over with. There needs to be Executor or Administrator appointed by court that gives ability to do things legally. Sissy nor you or others cannot do anything’s as nobody yet has been appointed or has shown “standing” for heirship.

My experience is that TX has 3 ways to settle estate if there is a will - small estates affidavit, muniment of title (think probate low calorie version for those with fully paid off house/land & selling it) & traditional probate (with 2 sub-systems within). Small estates affidavit & muniment of title can totally be DIY imo if the person named Executor in the will has their wits about them & comfortable in a courthouse & used to buying / selling property or doing tax sales AND deceased had no debts. But there needs to be a will & a will that is considered by the court to be valid as it determines how assets - like house - are to be distributed to heirs So paperwork filed to accompany the affidavit or muniment reflects the terms of the will. Traditional probate needs probate atty. & there are different type of probate attorneys.

Please please check to see if she might have done one; perhaps her & your dad did one ages ago. If there were any court filings after his death, it may be attached to those filing in the courthouse archives or in family files. Even if it’s an old holographic (hand written) will, it can be provided to the court to be used as the valid will. Your in H-town or nearby, right? HGAC region for county courthouse stuff is all on-line except for like Brazorzia & Wharton counties. So you likely can go on line to see what might have been filed for dads death AND also get downloads of the chain of paperwork on house.

IF no will, then it’s is sticky. She is consider to have died “intestate” & for TX that means her assets “escheat” to the state. State assumes kinda nominal ownership of her assets till heirs are established & an administrator is placed by probate court to oversee. To establish heirs, a lineal heirship process is needed. Basically lineal means a call-out is done to find whomever could be an heir and also find couple of folks who knew your mom (& possibly your dad too) to validate the heirs. Lineal imo is not ever a DIY as it has a pretty defined sequential system for notifications in newspapers and courthouse posting boards for any country she & your dad lived in or had real property in that must get placed and reported to the court. If either were married before and there were kids from those marriage’s, they can fall into a lineal heirship line. Lineal isn’t expensive (under 1k in my experience) as it’s usually done a probate atty who only does lineal and does almost all as on-line filing via accounts they have with all the newspapers or publications of record for the surrounding area and their attorney portal to probate court. Lineal takes 6-9 mos to clear so judge can sign off on who are recognized heirs & appoint administrator. Administrator then can sell property, deal with claims etc.

if mom died with no $, no POD (pay on death) banking account, no life insurance policy with enough $ paid to pay probate & property expenses for a year or so, then administrator will need to front those cost on their own but file them as a claim against the state.

TX is a Level of Claim by Class state for probate. Claims have to be filed within a set time frame from a NOC (Notice to Creditors) placement. Claims paid by class. Expect medical debts to pressure pay now as they know once probate open may never get paid.

If mom was on Medicaid, state has to attempt recovery (MERP) via outside contractor & will send a NOI (notice of intent) to file a claim or lien against estate which has house as an asset.

Tax assessor will send out a form on ownership change. Taxes will increa$e & bigly.
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97yroldmom Jul 9, 2019
Igloo
Thank you as always for your very detailed posts.
I think I follow most of what you said but I was wondering about a couple of things.

-Does Texas have the provision where the daughter who cared for her mom for years (perhaps keeping the gov from having to care for her in a NH) be entitled to live in the home until her own passing or until she moved?
Is this only if the mother were on Medicaid?

(It doesn’t sound like the mother was on Medicaid since the poster is concerned about large medical bills.)

-If caring sister is allowed to remain in the home under the provision mentioned, would she be able to file for a tax homestead discount if she is of an age to qualify?

Thanks for your help.
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I'm very sorry for your loss.
My dad did not have a will either, but I am the only child. Probate will step in without a will. I don't know how close you are with your sister, but you both should see an estate attorney. Make sure that's who you see. If you both are older individuals you both could be eligible for Legal Aid. Then it won't cost you as much. If you don't want an interest in the house and your sister has been living there, she may need the house to continue to have a place to live. Probate will post the estate in the Legal newspaper to see if anyone else will come forward to make a claim. I wish you both well.
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SSorry for your loss I would get a lawyer st see what to do but like other post u have to see if your mom have any medical bills if she do u have to sell the house to pay it if she don't then your sister who lives in the house should be able to keep it especially if she took care of mom and help pay taxes bills if that was me I would give my sister the house but that's just me good luck.
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You file probate papers for her 'estate'. Any creditors who have an interest in her estate could file a claim, however bill collectors seldom do...unless you wait a very long time.

Her estate will be divided equally with the children. Then children can figure out what to do. If you only have 1 sister who wants cash for her share, then let the sibling living in home pay her that amount. The other two of you could give your part to sister who lives there. Pretty cheap price for a home.

Possible the attorney could even set it up this way for you so that only 1 deed has to be done. Contact a probate atty and get it over with.
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Reply to my2cents
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I'm so sorry for your loss. I know this is not an easy time. This is really a question for a lawyer. Every state is different. The procedures and rule differ between states, so what applies in New York may not be the same in Texas. You can probably get a free consultation with a lawyer to get accurate answers that apply to your state, and if applicable, to handle your mother's estate.
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Reply to Gabbygirl
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Condolences on the loss of your mother...

Also sympathies for having a somewhat greedy sister...

First thing is stop worrying about that sister who "wants to sell the house ." There is no will or trust, the house was in mom's name, so NONE OF YOU can sell it until it goes through the court system! Explain this to the sister - you can't sell something you don't own, and because mom had no will, any/all assets will have to go through probate court, which will take time. Suggest she back off for now, she cannot do ANYTHING until the dust settles (court proceeding and any outstanding bills for mom come in - BTW, hold those for probate, you and sisters should NOT pay them with any of your own money! DO however keep up on the current bills for the house (utils, taxes, etc) and keep good records - whoever covers those would get first dibs when the house is "settled", aka even if you share the sale, THAT comes off the top for whoever paid it.)

Meanwhile, see if you and the live-in sister can get to the court house first and get assignment as executor. Work with your other sister and see how she feels about the situation. Others suggested if you and she want to, you could petition the court to grant the house to the live-in sister, and figure out how to deal with the greedy one (pay off 1/4 after probate with own assets or take out a loan.) I would beware this, depending on the value of the house. The IRS only allows "gifting" without tax implication of 15k/year (if live-in has a spouse, you could double each "gift" to 30k by giving equal share to him.) By each of you giving your shares, she may end up owing the IRS a lot!

I do think what some alluded to might work best for all of you - have it set up as a life-estate realty trust, in all your names, which would also be set-up to allow sister to remain there until she dies, moves, etc, and then you all (or your descendants) inherit your share. Live-in would cover general bills, upkeep (within reason), RE taxes, etc, which should allow her to claim the taxes paid. If the greedy one is not receptive, get an appraisal, set up the life estate realty trust in THREE names/successors, then sister (might have to include you two) can get a small HEL to pay off the greedy bugger and the rest of you have a nice "investment" for your own future AND your wonderful sister who spent all that time caring for your mom won't have to worry about where she will live! (the HEL may have to be signed by all trustees, but she can be the one making the payments, unless you both want to help her out.)

Getting to court first to get appointed is a way to start. Since it will take time to get everything done, do check with some attorneys in the meantime if they offer free consult and have all your questions written up (and take notes!) One question would be how much to do the life estate realty trust and assist in probate, unless you feel you can handle it yourself (I wouldn't!!) Also in the meantime, have one-on-one chats with your sisters and maybe throw out suggestions on how to handle it (buy out, life estate, etc) and see how they feel. If at least three of you are agreeable, I would work towards that solution. It would give greedy what she wants (assuming there is anything left after all remaining bills and court costs are paid) and would help "retain" what you have for family "togetherness".
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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