How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask lwpat Your Own Question
lwpat, Attorney at Law
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 25387
Experience:  Attorney with experience in wills, estates and trusts
Type Your Estate Law Question Here...
lwpat is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

As one of the heirs, can I sue the estate for expenses I incurred

Customer Question

As one of the heirs, can I sue the estate for expenses I incurred to bring the estate properties out of foreclosure? If so, does it include attorney fees? If not why?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  lwpat replied 7 years ago.
You can file a claim with the probate court for your expenses and also for your time. In Texas an attorney has to be retained for the probate process. Here I would recommend that you file to be the personal representative. Then to keep from having problems have the other beneficiaries sign off on the expenses or either petition the court for approval.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I have done all of the above my problem is with only one of the heirs. 7 out of 8 have signed the agreement to share in the expense of getting the property out of foreclosure but the 1 heir refuses to accept their share of the expenses while insisting on a equal share. The properties have been ruled by the court to be sold. I need to know to ensure that everyone pays their fair share of the expense, can the estate be sued as a whole?
Expert:  lwpat replied 7 years ago.
I you are the personal representative you can petition the probate court to approve the expense. If you are not the PR you file your claim and if the PR refuses then you can sue the estate as a whole.
lwpat and 5 other Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Since I got your answer, I recieved a ruling from the 335th Judicial District court in Bastrop Texas, denying a petition to force the decenting heir to reimburse me. The judge cited that the claims of the decentor that they had paid taxes in the past despite they offered no proof, offset my claims for reimbursement of money spent for taxes.


I was not personally able to attend the hearing but my nephew representing me reported that my attorney failed to argue that my taxes and expenses were to get the property out of foreclousure. He also failed to mention my role as representative and the signed agreement with the other heirs recognized by the probate court. He failed to offer 30 years of receipts showing that my sister, the mother of my nephew had paid the tax since my mother's death and prior to her own death and the subsequent foreclosure. He failed to call my nephew to the stand although he could refute the opposing claims. He failed to argure that the total of the taxes since my mother death, did not equal the taxes and expenses to get the property out of foreclosure ruled as offsetting expenses.


My attorney has told me that the property is now in the hands of the receivor and technically no longer an estate and so it couldn't be sued as an estate. He also said it would be fruitless to appeal the judge's ruling because the judge would look at such a move as an affront of the judge's integrity.


When I questioned his representation, ironically he has said he is willing to terminate our lawyer client relationship and forfeit $9,000 of the outstanding balance of the $28,500 I have been charged. He argued that it was my failure to come to a consensus with the decenting heir who wanted the lions share of the estate without any responsibility for the expenses that caused the judge to rule in their favor and not his failure to offer relevant evidence and testimony.


I want every one to share equally in the expenses and the profits from my mother's estate. I need to know what if anything I can do to make this happen?

Expert:  lwpat replied 7 years ago.
I cannot comment on what your attoreny did or did not do. If you feet taht you were not properly represented then you can file a complaint with the state bar. You can obtain a transcript of the trial to see what actually was said and entered into evidence. You should have asked for a continuance until such time as you could personally appear and offer testimony.

At this stage you can appeal or ask for a new trial. If you want to win you have to put forth every effort the first time since it is hard to get an order reversed.
Expert:  lwpat replied 7 years ago.
If you are the PR of the estate, you are the one that decides what is a valid claim against the estate. Then the heir that does not agree would have to sue you in probate court and the probate judge would decide. I don't know why you sued them and spent your money on the attorney.

I also do not understand his statement about there not being an estate unless the properties are upside down and will not bring enough at a sale. If that is the case there is no money in the estate to share or to reimburse you for your expenses so I fail to see what you are fighting over. If you paid estate expenses out of your pocket the other heirs are not responsible for paying you back.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I did attend one court hearing and offered testimony. My lawyer did not ask me very much. The opposing attorney kept asking me the same question over and over, "Did I have any first hand knowledge that my deceased brother did not give my deceased sister money for taxes while they were alive" as my sister-in-law asserted. My answer was that I lived in Los Angeles and I wasn't aware of what might have or have not taken place between my sister and brother in Texas.


I did say however that in my conversations with her she did not indicate that anyone other than herself was paying property taxes and that I knew that the taxes were in my sister's name and she paid the taxes. It wasn't until after my court appearance that I was able to secure the actual 30 years of receipts and forward them to my lawyer.


My concerned is not if the taxes prior to the foreclosure of the properties should be offset. My question is if the payment to get the property out of foreclosure can be offset since there is no property to dispute without this action?


Without specifically commenting on the position of my attorney, I need to know if there is a point that the estate is dissolved before the property is sold and if this ruling prohibits me from seeking reimbursement from the estate as a whole rather than just from the decending heir? Does this ruling now give the other heirs who have signed the agreement to share the cost of getting the property out of foreclosure an argument not to honor that agreement? Can I seek payment either through a subsequent court order citing that my expenses were unique and not subject to offset claims or through the receivor if in fact there isn't an estate and he is tottaly responsible for the sale and/or claims for expenses?


Sorry to be such a pest.

Expert:  lwpat replied 7 years ago.
This decision is only with respect to that one heir and does not effect the other agreement. I think that the way it was handled is completely the wrong procedure but I am not a Texas attorney. I will see if I can forward your question on to a TX attorney for comment.

Here you will have to appeal the decision, not seek payment through a subsequent court order.

If the property belongs to the estate and the property is being sold by the estate, then there is an estate and you can repay yourself for the money spent to get the property out of foreclosure if there is money in the estate.