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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 15743
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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My grandfather passed 7 years ago. Probate has not been filed

Customer Question

my grandfather passed 7 years ago. Probate has not been filed yet. My grandfather was divorced. His ex wife had remarried and divorced again. She was the mother of one of his children. She is claiming half of the house he had built, appraised at $116,000 , is hers. Two of his children have signed their part of that house over to the ex wife. The third refuses to. The two are telling the third she is only entitled to $5,000 from the first house. There is a second house that is appraised at $33,000. The two are telling the third she is only entitled to $5,000 on it, even though the third had paid the taxes on the second property for 7 years as well as cleaned the property up and made repairs. The first two had allowed people to cut locks off of the second house and remove items of value from the property. The first two petitioned the court to be administrators of the estate. The ex wife and the first two claim the ex wife is entitled to half of the house appraised at $116,000, even though she has since remarried and divorced again before my grandfather passed. What legal standing does each party have in regards ***** ***** estate? Can the first two be prosecuted for not fulfilling their duties as administrators, especially since they transferred their part of the $116,000 dollar home over to the ex wife and probate has not been completed? What does the third child need to do?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for using JustAnswer. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. You mentioned that probate has not been filed yet, but then you said that the first two petitioned the court to be administrators of the estate. This is what probate means. Did the court grant that request and issue letters testamentary (if there was a will) or letters of administration (if there was no will)?
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
There was no will. They petitioned for administratorship but haven't even paid taxes. Haven't split the estate. They didn't go through the Court to transfer the $116000 home into the ex wife's name. They just did it. They tried to lose the second house to the state by not paying taxes on it. My aunt, the oldest but the one excluded, who is the only one on a fixed income, has kept the taxes on the $33000 home for 7 years plus cleaned up the property and made repairs.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
The ex wife had remarried and divorced before my grandfather passed. She was supposed to have been allowed to live In the home until she died of she wanted but she was never to have owned it. It was to go to the three children.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
Apologies for the delay. I was out of the office when you responded. So you say that they petitioned for administratorship (that's probate), so can you tell me what you mean by "probate has not been filed yet"
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
I see that you have not responded in some time... I'm still waiting for a response to my previous question...
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
They got appointed as administrators and then did NOTHING else. They didn't even make a list of property and possessions. They haven't distributed anything. ALL they have done is transfer ownership of the $116,000 house located in Marianna, Arkansas to the ex wife and they did that BEFORE they were appointed administrators and WITHOUT the third child's consent. They have not paid taxes, repairs, or maintenance on the other property at all. The third child has done all of that. They are only offering the third child a TOTAL of $11,000. And they have since taken that offer off of the table.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
I see. So when you said that probate has not been filed yet, you misspoke, correct? I'm sorry if it seems like I'm beating a dead horse here, but I try to first square away contradicting statements (because sometimes there's something that is misstated which ends up being very relevant)...
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
The only part of probate that has been done is they were appointed as administrators.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
I see. The "filing" for probate is the application. It's not when probate is completed. It's like filing a lawsuit. It doesn't mean that you have a lawsuit once the judgment is issued, after the jury trial, etc... Again, that was confusing because you were saying that there was no probate filing but were also saying that they asked to be appointed administrators, and later you said that they were appointed administrators. That only happens if probate was filed. Was his ex-wife still on the deed to the property? Was there a divorce decree that granted one of them the property?
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Her name was never on it to begin with.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
Was it built during their marriage? Or did he build it prior to their marriage? And did the divorce decree award it to either?
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
It was built during their marriage. I believe divorce papers granted her 50% of the house. They were divorced 26 yrs when he passed. She had remarried and divorced. The house was never supposed to belong solely to her. She transferred the title into her name after grandpa passed, before administrators had been appointed.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
In the event that the divorce papers grant her 50% of the property, she'll own 50% of the property, and his legal heirs the other 50%. Only if the house sold for $30,000 (equity) would the third child have $5,000 ($15,000 to ex, and $15,000 to be split among the three children). Property that was solely his would be split among the three children. Now she could have, potentially, a claim for reasonable expenses (taxes, etc...) that she would need to present to the administrators. If the administrators do not act on this, she can petition the probate court to appoint a new administrator of the estate, and assess fees, costs, and "sanctions" against the administrators for their failure to act, breach of fiduciary duty, etc... I assume that you're this third child of three (it's never expressly stated). If so, send a demand letter action requesting 1/3 of his sole property, and 1/6 of the property owned by him and the ex, within 30 days, otherwise you will pursue legal action against them, seeking that amount plus any additional damages as allowed by law, and seeking to remove them as administrators based upon their inaction and breach of fiduciary duty. Send this letter certified, return receipt requested, as well as a copy sent regular mail. Keep a copy for yourself, as well as the return receipt number so that you can show the court that you made this demand. If they still don't act, you will need an attorney in the area that deals with probate cases. Go to www.lawyers.com or www.legalmatch.com to find an attorney in your area. You should be able to find one that will give you a free initial consultation and better advise you of your rights, any problems with your case, likelihood of success, how courts are treating cases such as yours in your area, and what you should do next. Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it positively (3 or more stars). Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
How was the ex able to change the title into her name in the first place? She did that 2 months after he passed. Administrations weren't appointed until 4 years ago. He has been gone 7 years. Weren't her actions illegal?
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
They'd only be illegal if she forged his name. If she only signed her name, even if she purported to transfer the entire title to her name, that would not be illegal. It would be ineffective, in that it could be challenged in court and overturned. But it would only be illegal if she actually forged his name or otherwise purported to act on his behalf in an official capacity (administrator, executor, etc...)
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
What about the other two heirs neglecting the second house and trying to let it go to the state for nonpayment of taxes? And stating they didn't care it was one less headache?
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
That could be actionable if it disadvantaged you as an heir. Again, that's a breach of their fiduciary duties owed to you as a beneficiary of the estate.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Ok, what about the personal property that they have already sold and not split?
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
Not distributing proceeds of a sale of estate funds is also actionable under a breach of fiduciary duty. Now if there are reasonable expenses (legal, etc...) of the estate, then those can be paid off first. But after those expenses are paid, they would need to pay out a distribution to the probate beneficiaries. Failure to do so is a breach of the fiduciary duty that they have as administrators of the estate. If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better) AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!▼ RATING REQUIRED! ▼ Please don't forget to Rate my service as OK Service or higher. It's only then I am credited.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
Again, it's important that you rate this answer so I get credit for the time (>1 hour) spent on your question. If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better) AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!▼ RATING REQUIRED! ▼ Please don't forget to Rate my service as OK Service or higher. It's only then I am credited.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
Hello?
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 6 months ago.
I see that you have not responded in some time. Please note that this question is still open until you rate it. I believe that I have answered your question, but if you have any other questions, please let me know.If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, ***** ***** good luck to you!

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