Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Texas

Are all heirs liable for ''just personal expenses and debts

Our cousin died, the will left her small house to me and another cousin. I wanted the house, the other cousin said she wanted ''nothing''. I paid the ''funeral and just debts'' (will words) out of my pocket, our net inheritance would have been absolutly nothing from the sell of the house in probate. Cousin has changed mind when asked to sign off to me. What does she owe me? Can I win in court for taxes, expenses etc I have paid since 2006? I may buy her out, but I need to know how much is fair to me.

Asked on 7/08/08, 6:20 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Cheryl Rivera Smith The Smith Law Firm

Re: Are all heirs liable for ''just personal expenses and debts

It depends on the status of probate. Did other cousin probate the will and get Letters Testamentary issued? If it is not too late, you can petition the court for reimbursement in full. Find a lawyer in the county of cousin's residence to assist you. Probate is quick and inexpensive in Texas as long as there is no protracted litigation.

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Answered on 7/08/08, 6:37 pm

Janet Brewer Law Office of Janet L. Brewer

Re: Are all heirs liable for ''just personal expenses and debts

Two questions, off the top. First, in which state did your cousin live. Second, in which state is the house located? Your information indicate "Texas and California", but I can't tell whether you live in one of those states or whether your cousin lived in one of those states or whether the house was located in one of those states.

Why is this information important? Because different states have different rules for the payment of probate expenses. In California, for example, the taxes and expenses of administration (administration expenses are expenses directly involved in administering the estate - like court costs, lawyers' fees, fees for obtaining copies of various court documents, etc.) come out of the probate estate. But funeral expenses and "just debts" (by which I presume you mean money your cousin owed on her credit cards, utilities, medical, etc. at the time of her death) are ONLY supposed to be paid AFTER the creditor has filed a claim for reimbursement with the Court ... so if you paid those expenses without court approval, you might not be eligible (in California, at least) to have them reimbursed.

In any event, it sounds like there are a lot of "missing" facts that need to be taken into account before it would be possible to give you an accurate answer.

I suggest you contact the state or county bar association's lawyer referral service in the county/state where the property is located and ask a knowledgeable local probate attorney what the relevant procedure would be in this case.

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Answered on 7/09/08, 1:50 am

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