El Paso, TX asked in Real Estate Law and Probate for Texas

Q: A 2011 will was never filed but signed with two witnesses can I automatically keep the house as homestead I am disable.

I am disabled and cared for My mom and lived in the home. I never filed the will that was made 2011 with 2 Witnesses There is a pending bill for $101,000 in back taxes. The will states that I am the executor and I keep all real estate and belongings I live in the house and don’t work. I only get my disability check. Can I keep the house as my homestead since I live there.. am I liable for the $101,000. Back taxes and do I have to go to probate I am not familiar with the courts and Do not have any money. Can I also do it myself? The WILL stated that everything went to my dad but if he was not around that everything went to me the house needs a lot of work plumbing, etc. but it’s probably worth about 200,000 I live in El Paso, Texas, and the county is El Paso Hopefully I can just stay there without doing anything. Thank you.

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1 Lawyer Answer
John Michael Frick
John Michael Frick
  • Frisco, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: Unless and until a Will is probated, it does not pass title of a decedent's assets to the heirs named in the Will. You have four years from the date of the decedent (your mom)'s death to probate her Will. Legally, you are allowed to probate a Will without a lawyer; however, in practice, if you do not know how to probate a Will, it is strongly recommended that you hire a lawyer with experience in probate law.

You mention that the house needs a lot of plumbing work. Legally, you can do all of your own plumbing work and are not legally required to hire a plumber. You will; however, be required to comply with the appropriate building codes, secure all of the necessary permits, and pass all of the required inspections. Same thing goes for lawyers and probating a Will, except the legal fees for probating a Will are likely to be much lower than the cost of a plumber.

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