Skip to main content
Stephen A. Mendel
Avvo
Pro

Stephen Mendel’s Answers

15 total


  • My mother just recently passed away she had no living will. She has 5 children she a son who lives in her home now. Who has the

    right to decide what happens to the property (sell or rent)?

    Stephen’s Answer

    In addition to the comments by Messrs. Paxton and Fromm, you should immediately seek the advice of legal counsel. It is September and property tax statements will be coming out in October and November, with the tax payments due by January 31 of next year. A common problem after the death of a parent is who is going to pay the taxes on the family home. An even bigger problem is whether anyone has the financial resources to pay the taxes. If the taxes are being escrowed by a mortgage company, then who is paying the monthly note. In short, a common problem for a lot of beneficiaries is that they wait too long to probate an estate, and then the family home is lost to either foreclosure by the mortgage company for nonpayment of the note or foreclosure by the taxing authorities for nonpayment of taxes. While tax authorities are much slower to foreclose than mortgage companies, the penalties and interest on the unpaid taxes often make it difficult, if not in possible, for the beneficiaries to bring the taxes current. The result is that the family home is lost. Given these potential problems, along with a host of other issues that are beyond the scope of this response, you should retain a probate attorney without delay.

    See question 
  • What is considered a conflict of interest?

    My grandpa died a yr a go and he had inherited about 20 rental homes from his boss about 7 yrs ago. He died with no will so we are in understanding that my grandma recieves 1/3 and the other 2/3 is split between the 3 sons 1 of which is my dad who...

    Stephen’s Answer

    Your question is difficult to answer, because the answer depends on a review of certain documents and the need for further information that you may not have. In order to make an informed decision about what to do, you should set an appointment with a probate attorney to review the assets of the estate. You should provide the attorney with a list of the homes, including any debts or taxes owed on the homes, as well as a print-out about the homes from the Harris County Appraisal District.

    You should know that real estate, and in particular, rental properties, can make a probate quite difficult, especially if there are unpaid taxes as indicated by you.

    Whether your uncle has your interests at heart depends on a lot of facts. You need to be very sure that you have the facts to show misconduct before you contend that he engaged in misconduct. If cannot backup with the contention, then you increase the likelihood that the probate will take longer, cost more money to complete, and it will hurt your relationship with your uncle if you turn out to be wrong. Being an executor is more difficult than it appears.

    The fact that you are unemployed is not a reason for you to be able to live in one of the homes, and it could increase the cost of the probate if the home has to be sold and refuse to leave. The better course would be to figure out what is the value of the estate that you should receive, and then figure out if there is a home close in value to what you should receive, and then see if you, the executor, and the other heirs can reach an agreement on which home you might receive. Once an agreement is reached, then you can move into the home.

    See question 
  • What exactly is a "receipt for assets from independent executor"

    my grandmothers will is in probate, we think this will was drawn up under coercion, she was 96 & had signs of dementia. we havent gotten any assets from executor, & now they are asking us to sign the above document. when the will states all resi...

    Stephen’s Answer

    Your question is difficult to answer, because the answer depends on a review of certain documents and the need for further information that you may not have. In order to make an informed decision about what to do, you should set an appointment with a probate attorney to review the Receipt that you were asked to sign. In addition, be sure to provide the attorney with: (1) a copy of your grandmother’s Will; (2) an instrument filed with the Court called an Inventory, Appraisement, and List of Claims; and (3) any other information that you may have, such as other correspondence or emails.

    Whether you might inherit money from bank accounts, CDs, etc. depends on how the accounts were styled. Many account holders designate beneficiaries to receive their accounts, which means the beneficiary(ies) on file with the bank will receive the money instead of someone named in a Will.

    You should not sign the Receipt without talking to an attorney, because you could be waiving important rights. Rights that you could be waiving would be the right to sue for misconduct or to receive an accounting of what was received, spent, and/or distributed.

    See question 
  • Is a house that was purchased by mom , dad and myself mine since they have passed away.

    My mom , dad and I purchased a house in 1987. Mom and Dad have passed . My mom willed the house to my brother and my dad did not leave a will . Is the property soley mine or does my bother and sisters owe part of the house. My brother has been liv...

    Stephen’s Answer

    Dear Houston Daughter:

    You need to see an attorney immediately. The tax delinquency is getting worse by the month, because penalties and interest will be assessed when the taxing authority eventually learns the truth.
    Whether you own the house outright depends on the what the deed says. However, if your deed is typical of what is usually issued, then you and your siblings are probably co-owners of the property. Each sibling’s percentage of ownership, if any, will depend on what the deed says, what the Will says, and whether the Will was probated. There is also the chance that, if your brother is a co-owner, then he might owe you some rent for his use and occupancy of your share of the home.

    Since our office is in Houston, if you would like a free one-hour consultation to discuss the issue, then please call our office at 281-759-3213, and we will gladly schedule something for you. We look forward to hearing from you.

    Stephen A. Mendel
    Houston, TX

    See question 
  • My wife's sister has power of attorney over her mother and father. My wife's father recently passed away. There is a will.

    The will designated me, the son in law, as the executor of my father in law's will. Before he passed away the father in law had us go with him to his house to retrieve his will. It was not there. We believe that my wife's sister has the will. ...

    Stephen’s Answer

    A power of attorney is no longer valid when the principal under the power of attorney dies. Once there is a death, the next document of any legal force is the decedent's Last Will & Testament. Given your sister-in-law's statement that the Will is not worth the paper it is written on, it appears that she possesses the Will. I would ask a court to require the sister-in-law to file the Will with the court. Good luck.

    See question 
  • Who enforces the Rule 11 agreement?

    The father is supposed to return our granddaughter and has not done so for 20 days now. The attorneys have gotten together on several occasions and his attorney (per our attorney) has stated that we are to meet and pick up the child. We have bee...

    Stephen’s Answer

    The ultimate enforcer of a Rule 11 agreement is the judge of the court where the case is pending.

    See question 
  • I have took deposition and now waiting for mediation to take place. But mut my attorney wants submit an offer to the other

    party involved, should we wait for them to send something over?

    Stephen’s Answer

    Your question is very broad, requires a lot more information detail about what is going on in the case, and, therefore, very diffuclt to answer. Nevertheless, settlement of a case is very fact specific, and there are multiple ways to obtain a comparable result. In other words, the strategy to settle your case will almost always vary from the strategy to settle someone else's case. Furthermore, two attorneys could each approach a settlement differently, and yet achieve fairly comparable results. There is a reason you retained the attorney that is presently handling your case. If you doubt his or her judgment, then you have the wrong attorney. If you trust his or her judgment, you should not be seeking information or recommendations from anyone other than your attorney. Good luck.

    See question 
  • Can my father & stepmothers headstone be replaced or changed adding his new wife's name after his death?

    My Father purchased 3 adjoining plots in a cemetery. After almost 25 years of marriage to my stepmother she passed away and was Buried in one of the plots. At that time my Father had a double marker placed on the grave containing his & my stepmoth...

    Stephen’s Answer

    Let me first point out that I do not practice in Indianapolis. Nevertheless, I think you will find that the answer to your question turns on who owns the cemetery plot, and what are the rules, if any, established by the cemetery where your father is buried. I would look at those two issues first. In addition, you should research on your own, or retain an attorney for assistance, to ascertain what rights, if any, do the survivors have regarding final disposition of a family member's remains, and what is the priority in terms of standing. For example, do adult children have rights superior to those of a second spouse.

    See question 
  • I purchased a home with a contract for deed in Texas. I have now paid off the home. How can I get the title

    I received a letter from Harris County about my homstead and they said a contract of deed is not valid unless filed. HOw do I file it

    Stephen’s Answer

    The filing of a contract for deed is simple, You go to the real property division of the Harris County Clerk's Office at 201 Caroline, Houston, TX 77002, The real property division will handle your filing. Please note, however, that the recording of a contract for deed does not mean you own the property. It just means you have a right to receive a deed once the purchase price has been paid.

    To obtain title, you need a deed. To obtain a deed, you should contact an attorney to prepare the deed, and then either you or the attorney can contact the seller to have the seller sign the deed, and to have the seller's signature notarized. Once you have a signed and notarized deed, you file it in the real property division of the Harris County Clerk's Office,

    See question 
  • Is it wise to file a temporary injuction and a lawsuit a day before the notice of trustee sale.

    We are working with an attorney out of town, Our concern is what would the judge think about waiting a day before the sale. We live in a non-judicial state. We have evidence of fraud, Respa violation etc. What should we do to make sure our home is...

    Stephen’s Answer

    There are two typical ways to stop a foreclosure. First, the owner can file for bankruptcy. Second, the owner can seek a temporary injunction. A bankruptcy filing will definitely stop a foreclosure. An injunction MIGHT stop a foreclosure. As such, the attorney probably recommended that you wait until the last minute to increase the likelihood that the court might issue a restraining order to prohibit a foreclosure pending a hearing on the application for temporary injunction.

    Which is the right call? The answer depends on whether you want a guarantee or not. If a bankruptcy is out of the question, then you have no choice but to proceed with an application for temporary injunction.

    See question