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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 111533
Experience:  Experienced in Trust and Succession Law, including Louisiana Laws
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I live in Shreveport, La in Caddo parish in a family home

Customer Question

I live in Shreveport, La in Caddo parish in a family home that was about to be sold in a tax/sheriff sale because no one in the family was paying taxes on it for four years while the owner, my grandmother, was put in a nursing home. My father contacted me, asked me if i wanted to move into the house and look after my grandmother in the nursing home, visit, be make sure that she was ok because the rest of family was failing to do so. The catch was that I would have to pay the back taxes on it which totaled around $1300 for city taxes and about $5500 for parish taxes. I did so, and everyone was so please that the house would stay in the family and was happy that we had it. It had been abandoned so there was much work that needed to be done to a brick home that just sits. Over the next 3 1/2 - 4 years my husband and I would replace floors, walls, ceiling, and literally every room had renovations done to it. Suddenly and sadly, granny died on June 17, of this year 2016. Her will, which all parties were aware of, said that she "devised and bequeathed is my expressed desire that upon my death, my home be immediately sold, cost arising for repairs required to sell and any expenses occurred in the sale are to be decided equally between Joeseph M Reed (my father) and Tessa Hall (my first cousin whom she adopted)". Everyone knew what the will said, Tessa, my father, and I discussed several times the will, and Tessa assured me that "it is you and your family's home, and that it would be a great starter home for your family. I have a home and I don't need it. I'm glad that you're going to have it and keep it in the family." Her brother, and niece also discussed this with her and I separately, and all were in concurrence, just as my father was and still is. Around 10-11 days after Granny dies, Tessa asks me who I have insurance with and beat around the bush and told me not to make anymore changes to the house. She preceded to tell me theta the will said it had to be sold immediately and that there was nothing she could do. Tessa, being the executor of the will, is in fact the ONLY one that can decide to not put it into place. She has furthermore proceeded to Send an eviction notice for September the 26, 2016 and has refused to repay me for any and all work o have done in the home, OR the taxes and penalties we were required to pay, and I have receipts for EVERYTHING. I refuse to believe that this is right, with witnesses to everything and records of everything that she can get away with this. She also filed all paperwork not in the parish in which our grandmother died, and which the estate is in, but the next parish over, Bossier Parish. What is your advice on being able to keep the home, or at the very least get reimbursed for all of the money that we spent, not knowing we'd be put out on the street. Thank you very much.Misty Reed Smith
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Unfortunately, the Louisiana courts must enforce a will as written. So if the will calls for the home to be sold the executor must sell the home. HOWEVER, there is nothing saying she could not sell it to you for some minor amount of money or even for $1. If she refuses to do that, you have a legal claim against the estate for reimbursement of all of the tax money paid and all of the repairs you made and if she refuses to reimburse you from the estate you can file a claim in probate court to force her to pay the money you spent on rehabilitating the property and saving it from tax sale.

So I am afraid that if you cannot get her to honor her promises, you will need to give her a claim against the estate for all the money you put into the home, including taxes and demand reimbursement. If she refuses, you need to have a local attorney and file a claim in probate against the estate for payment of money due. If the estate cannot pay what they owe, the court can actually award you the house as payment.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
My other question is what form do I file for improper venue and domicile of death? My grandmother died and lived in Caddo Parrish but she has filed the succession in Bossier Parrish as will as stating she died in the Bossier domicile. This is not true either. I've just been to the courthouse where she filed and found the petition for probate of will and nobody knew what I needed to file or even give me an amount it takes to file it. I need the forms because they couldn't help me with that either. I'm very hurt and she knows I'm not well off as she is and has the upper hand. She is trying to keep me from filing anything and I'm running out of time because I'm thinking I have a certain window of time. Please help me and point me in the direction of the correct forms I need and can acquire. Not to mention she has a family member running for mayor in Bossier Parrish and knows a few judges. I feel like I don't have a chance.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.

You would need to file a motion to dismiss succession based on improper venue and that would cause the court to dismiss and order that she file in Caddo. The clerks will not tell you anything about what to file and they also do not have forms in Louisiana for this because you need a succession attorney to represent you against the estate in the probate challenge. Louisiana law says she has to file in the Parish where your grandmother resided at the time of her death, so that would be Caddo.

If she is related to judges, that would be a second reason to change venue, but you would hold off on that and argue and provide proof she resided in Caddo.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Her death certificate says caddo and she lived next door in the nursing home which is Caddo as well. Is their a site or are forms available at a library perhaps. I only want to rightfully be reimbursed. But I also don't want to hire someone knowing I haven't got a leg to stand on. She claims I can't get anything back because I didn't pay anything to live there so I should consider it rent, and it's stupid to think I should get anything back. What??? Just don't want to waste time money or even my sanity if I haven't got a chance.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.

So you need to file your motion to dismiss succession on basis of improper venue. You do have a leg to stand on and you have a leg to move it to Caddo as well as at the very least recovering all of the money you spent on the estate property. It is not stupid to think you should get anything back, that was not the deal.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Say I was to offer her $20,000, and she refuses, I can then file for reimbursement? And Is that the same as filing a debt claim on an estate? Can you give me any ideas where I am find any of the forms as well.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.

If you want to do that, you can do so. If she is not cooperative, then you would sue. Making such an offer is not a claim, that is a offer of settlement, not a claim for reimbursement.

I am afraid that the forms just are not made available online, you can go to the court library and ask the librarian for their form books which have blank form templates. However, for your claim for reimbursement there is no form, it is simply a letter where you itemize what you are due and attach copies of any receipts.

If she denies you and you want to offer a settlement to buy the house for $20,000 and she refuses that as well, then you have to have a local succession attorney and file your claim for reimbursement in the probate case.
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
it is absolutely necessary that I have to have an attorney? And do I need to file a letter with the court or send it to her. Or should I send it to her lawyer?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.

If she is going to refuse to reimburse you or does not want to make a deal with you on the house, yes, you need an attorney. You just send the letter to her for now at first, with a copy to her lawyer. If they deny the claim, you need an attorney and have to go to court against the estate.

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