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LegalGems, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
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Experience:  Private Practice; Elder Law Attorney; Estate Planning; Attorney Mentor
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My stepfather passed away in December, intestate. As his separate

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My stepfather passed away in December, intestate. As his separate property he owned a house that he and my mom lived in. The house was worth roughly 70k when they started living together. She contributed about 100K to improvements on the house. The house is now worth around 125K. It is my understanding that she would have the 50k interest in the house and a percentage of the appreciation. What is the exact percentage of the appreciation she would have and interest in.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  LegalGems replied 3 years ago.

LegalGems :

Hi; My goal is to provide you with great service - if you have any questions during our chat, please ask! I'll do my best to ensure your satisfaction! I'm sorry to hear of your family's loss. In Texas, if the deceased has children, then his separate property is divided so that the surviving spouse receives 1/3 of the personal property and a life estate (the right to live in/use) in 1/3 of the real property. If the deceased has no children, then the surviving spouse receives 1/2 of the real property that is separate, with the remainder going to the deceased parents/siblings. Since your mother made contributions to the house (the house being separate property) she is entitled to reimbursement for money paid towards this asset. This is an equitable doctrine, meaning it is within the judge's discretion. So the judge has leeway to award the portion that he deems is "equitable" or fair.

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Expert:  LegalGems replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for rating my answer (and for the generous bonus- much appreciated).

I wanted to give you the statute:

Sec. 3.404. APPLICATION OF INCEPTION OF TITLE RULE; OWNERSHIP INTEREST NOT CREATED. (a) This subchapter does not affect the rule of inception of title under which the character of property is determined at the time the right to own or claim the property arises.

(b) A claim for reimbursement under this subchapter does not create an ownership interest in property, but does create a claim against the property of the benefited estate by the contributing estate. The claim matures on dissolution of the marriage or the death of either spouse.

You can link to it here:
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
So basically, the judge has to determine the amount, and she can put a claim on the house for that amount? Since it was their homestead, she can't be forced out of the house right?
Expert:  LegalGems replied 3 years ago.
That is correct. Generally the judges are sympathetic in situations such as this; but it would be nice if the legislature could tighten up the statutes so that a surviving spouse has more protection.
They don't act on it because of the ability to make a will to achieve a different result but, in my experience, many people avoid/procrastinate on making a will, simply because we don't like to think about our personal demise.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I understand that taxes and upkeep are part of the responsibility of the person with the life estate? If my mother were to make improvements on the house until the time of her death does that work?
Expert:  LegalGems replied 3 years ago.
That is correct.

As for home improvements, that is done voluntarily, so there is technically no right of reimbursement unless the remaindermen and the person holding the life estate come to a contrary agreement, or unless a will or trust makes a contrary provision.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Do you know what type of documentation is generally required to illustrate the surviving spouse's financial contributions to the house?
Expert:  LegalGems replied 3 years ago.
I wanted to be sure and thank you for using JA/Pearl.

I hope you found the information I provided useful.

If you would like to request me for your future legal inquires, please put TO LEGAL GEMS in front of the question, and I will do my best!
Take care.

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PS- thanks kindly for the generous bonus- much appreciated!