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Inheriting Real Property in Texas

Inheriting cash or marketable securities is one thing. Cash and marketable securities can easily be divided and distributed. Real estate is not this easy. It can present a number of very difficult challenges for the beneficiaries and the executor or personal representative.

Selling Real Estate Remotely

One of the common challenges that arise when inheriting real estate is how to sell or dispose of the property remotely, especially when the property in question is the parent’s house and the children live out of state. This situation adds additional work and logistical considerations for the children who are responsible for wrapping up their parent’s affairs.

To ensure the best possible price for the real estate, the inheritor may need to conduct a thorough inspection of the property to identify any necessary repairs or upgrades required to make the property market-ready. This might involve hiring local contractors or service providers in the Dallas area to handle tasks such as repairs, painting, landscaping, or staging the property to enhance its appeal to potential buyers.

It’s important to note that the sale of real estate usually cannot take place until the probate process has been initiated. This means that the child or inheritor will need to wait until the necessary processes have been completed, which may take several months after the decedent’s passing. Consequently, the out-of-state child may find themselves needing to make another trip back to Dallas to make these arrangements, which can add to the logistical challenges and expenses associated with selling the property remotely.

To streamline the process and alleviate some of the burdens, the inheritor can consider working with a local real estate agent who has experience in handling remote sales. This agent can serve as a trusted representative, overseeing the property preparations, coordinating showings, and managing negotiations with potential buyers on behalf of the inheritor. Their local expertise and market knowledge can be invaluable in achieving a successful sale.

Additionally, engaging the services of a qualified attorney in Dallas who specializes in Texas probate law can provide guidance and ensure compliance with the legal requirements and procedures involved in selling inherited real estate. An attorney can assist with initiating the probate process, navigating any specific legal considerations, and addressing any questions or concerns that may arise throughout the sale.

Cleaning out the Property

In addition to the challenges associated with selling inherited real estate, another important aspect to address is cleaning out the property. The inheritor will likely need to manage the task of emptying the house and properly disposing of personal belongings and other items before the property can be prepared for sale or rental.

To streamline the process, many individuals find it beneficial to hire a professional estate liquidation company or clean-out crew or junk removal service. These services specialize in efficiently and responsibly clearing out properties, allowing the inheritor to focus on other aspects of estate administration. Working with a clean-out crew usually means coordinating access to the property, providing instructions on which items should be removed, and making decisions regarding belongings with sentimental or monetary value.

It’s important to approach the clean-out process with care and sensitivity, as there may be emotional attachments to certain items or family heirlooms. Take the time to identify and set aside items that hold sentimental value or may have significant financial worth. You may wish to consult with family members or heirs to ensure everyone has an opportunity to claim items of importance to them as part of the probate process (no, this property cannot immediately be divided or taken by the family members).

Remember that while cleaning out the property, you may also encounter documents and personal records. It is crucial to handle these items appropriately, as they may contain sensitive information.

Dealing with Multiple Beneficiaries

It is somewhat rare to inherit real estate via a specific bequest. Instead, many inheritors inherit a share of an entire estate and the estate happens to include real estate. This type of joint ownership often comes in. The survivors, a spouse or children or both, all inherit some joint or limited interest in the real estate.

Surviving Spouse Inherits Under Intestacy Laws

When a person dies without a valid will (i.e., they die intestate), Texas intestacy laws determine how their assets, including the homestead, are distributed. If the real estate is the decedent’s separate property (usually acquired before marriage) and the decedent is survived by a spouse and children, the surviving spouse is typically entitled to a life estate in the homestead.

This entitles the surviving spouse to the right to occupy and possess the homestead for their lifetime or until they choose to abandon it. The surviving spouse is then liable for real estate expenses of upkeep (repair, but not improvements), property taxes, and mortgage interest (not principal or insurance). The improvements, mortgage principal, and insurance have to be paid for by the surviving children.

Surviving Spouse’s Homestead Rights

Similar to the situation above with separate property passing by intestacy laws, even when there is a will that gives the homestead to the children or others, the surviving spouse still has homestead rights.

These rights are very similar to a life estate, but they are not a life estate. They are slightly less, but the slight is so slight that it is almost not worth mentioning.

The same split of expenses noted above applies in these cases.

Joint Ownership

There are other cases where the surviving spouse and/or children inherit real estate that is not a homestead, and they end up with a fractional share in the property.

The executor or personal representative will usually have to decide who is to get the real estate or, in some cases, whether it is to be sold and proceeds distributed. Absent directions in a will, the executor or personal representative will usually consider various factors, such as the wishes of the deceased, the financial needs of the beneficiaries or heirs, and their own wishes. Their duty is to act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries, which does not necessarily require them to adhere to anyone else’s wishes as with respect to real estate.

The Takeaway

Inheriting real estate presents unique challenges for beneficiaries and executors. Unlike cash or marketable securities, real estate requires careful consideration and additional steps to sell or dispose of it. Selling real estate remotely can be particularly complex, especially when the inheritor is out of state. It is crucial to seek guidance from professionals experienced in Texas probate law to navigate these challenges successfully.

Our Dallas Probate Attorneys provide a full range of probate services to our clients, including helping with estate planning. Probate is what we do. Affordable rates, fixed fees, and payment plans are available. We provide step-by-step instructions, guidance, checklists, and more for completing the probate process.We have years of combined experience we can use to support and guide you with probate and estate matters. Call us today for a FREE attorney consultation.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information presented may not apply to your situation and should not be acted upon without consulting a qualified probate attorney. We encourage you to seek the advice of a competent attorney with any legal questions you may have.

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