First off, this blog is not intended to provide legal advice of any kind. This is just an overview of probate issues we encounter while doing property tax loans in Texas. We strongly encourage anyone going through probate and/or dealing with estate issues to hire a qualified probate/estate attorney.
WHAT IS PROBATE?
Probate is merely a legal process guided by Texas state law to help settle an estate – in short, to extinguish valid debts and distribute assets according to the provisions of the will. The process involves a court review of a decedent’s Will to determine its validity as well as the qualifications of the Executor to perform their function. Once deemed valid, the court will empower the Executor to settle the estate and authorize the issuing of “letters testamentary” – a legal document the Executor will use to verify their authority to act on behalf of the estate.
As a result of being appointed as Executor of an estate, the Executor has a “fiduciary responsibility” to act in best interest of the Will and the estate. These duties should not be taken lightly and it would be in the best interest of the Executor to seek a qualified probate attorney – which can typically be paid out of the proceeds from the estate in most cases.
COMMON ISSUES FOR THOSE SEEKING A PROPERTY TAX LOAN FOR AN INHERITED PROPERTY
We often receive inquiries from individuals seeking a property tax loan for property with back taxes they believe they have inherited – most often from the death of a family member. When this happens there are usually three situations we have to deal with.
Situation 1: The family member left behind a Last Will & Testament that clearly states the inquiring individual as the owner of the property. This is usually straight forward though sometimes the individual has not properly probated the will and will need guidance to get their affairs in order so we can provide them with a property tax loan.
Situation 2: Will does not clearly state the individual as the sole owner of the property. This usually occurs when there are several siblings who own the property and only one of them is living in the property and wants to take out the property tax loan. We can usually work around this situation as well, but keep in mind that all rightful owners of a property must authorize a property tax loan and this situation can present a problem if some of the owners refuse to cooperate.
Situation 3: The deceased did not have a Will – or died intestate. This situation happens way too often and it is the hardest problem to solve, but not impossible. Usually an Affidavit of Heirship is used to determine the rightful heirs of the estate in this situation. We have helped numerous clients obtain a property tax loan who were in this situation.
If you find yourself as the owner of a Texas property through inheritance and the property has back taxes, a property tax loan could be a good solution for you. We are happy to discuss your particular situation with you and make recommendations; however, there are numerous probate procedures available in the State of Texas, as such we always advise the guidance from a qualified attorney in determining which course is best for your situation. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your particular situation.