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David Kennett
David Kennett, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
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Experience:  25 years practicing attorney
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My father died a month ago in Bandera, TX. The step-mother

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My father died a month ago in Bandera, TX. The step-mother is a beneficiary AND the executrix and has always hated the heirs, and has tried to influence my father against his heirs (3 children) and for her and her daughter. My father told me that each of us heirs has a codicle which represents 1/4 of his $2M estate. Step mother, has cut off all contact with the heirs and has threatened that "Texas is a community property state" meaning, I suppose, that she feels she can take whatever she wants. She has already taken two items, a van and a prized shotgun and given them to her daughter. These two items were not part of the will. But were part of community property. My question, what actions are available to get the executrix to send the heirs the Will, and provide an acoc**ting of what is left in the estate?
Dear JACUSTOMER - I am very sorry for the loss of your father. If there was a will and if there is an estate then all information is a matter of public record in the probate court in the county where your father resided at the time of his death. You can easily obtain a copy of the will and the inventory of the estate and all records of the distribution of the assets. Texas is a community property state but if there was a will that would take precedence unless the step mother elected to take against the will and obtain her share outside the will. Since I have no way of knowing what transpired I cannot tell you specifically how much of the estate will belong to you and your siblings. Any property that was held jointly with right to survivorship would pass directly to the step mother outside of the estate or provisions of the will. So regardless of what the will says, if the property is held joint with right to survivorship then it would go automatically to the step mother. These are the issues you need to investigate. All real estate records are public so you can easily see how the deeds were held. The step mother could not simply transfer assets out of your father's name unless they were held joint with right of survivorship so she would have to open an estate in the probate court which then becomes a matter of public record.
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