By, Jody Hudspeth, Paralegal for The Law Offices of Carol Bertsch, PC
One of the many hats I wear as a paralegal is answering phone calls and emails from concerned loved ones and caregivers. This column, “The Elder Law Askit Basket”, features some of the scenarios we hear on a frequent basis. If you have a question you’d like to see answered here, please email me at: email@example.com.
My father was single when he died 10 years ago, and he left everything to me in his Will, which I still have in a drawer somewhere. I am a very busy person, and I haven’t had time to deal with his estate. After all these years, my dad’s daughter from another marriage (my half sister) has come out of no where, and she wants to sell the house. She thinks she’s getting half of the proceeds, but she doesn’t know he left me everything. I guess it’s time for me to get a move on things so she’ll leave me alone. Is this something your law firm can help me with?
Your dad’s Will may have left you his estate, but that doesn’t mean it became yours automatically when he died. One must put the Will through probate to transfer the title of assets, such as a house. However, Texas law says an executor has four years from the time of death to probate the Will. Generally, the court will not accept a Will for probate after four years.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you will not be able to use your dad’s Will to settle his estate. You will have to use a different type of probate measure that follows the rules of intestate succession (the legal heirs of an estate without a Will). In short, you’ll be sharing your dad’s estate with your half sister and any other siblings or half siblings you may have.
I know this isn’t the news you were expecting, but I hope you found my answer helpful. If you’d like to discuss your situation further, please contact us to schedule an appointment.