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I inherited my father's interest in his home with my stepmother retaining the other half and keeping it as her homestead.

Abilene, TX |

Am I responsible for taxes, insurance, upkeep, etc.?

Attorney Answers 3


Sounds like you are responsible for 1/2 of the taxes, insurance and any mortgage payments. However, if step mom is living in the house and you are not, the upkeep and utilities must be resolved. Either she agrees to pay all of these or she enters into some kind of lease of your 1/2 interest and then all expenses are split in half. Get with an estates or real estate lawyer to discuss the details and to see if TX law has any special rules concerning this issue as my comments are general in nature.

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In all practical senses, these items should probably be divided in half, and you'd do well to gain some kind of agreement from your stepmother. The expenses are not yours to bear alone. The reality is that agreement and consensus is rare in these cases, and you may simply need to stand by and be ready to pick up the pieces when the taxes aren't paid or the house falls into disrepair.

Your stepmother is a life tenant, which is what grants her the right to occupy the home. That position comes with far more responsibility than yours. She is essentially a trustee for the property. She can't let it waste away, can't let it fall into disrepair and must keep it in reasonably good condition for the remainder owner -- who I am going to assume might be you. When life tenants are unable to fulfill their obligations, or refuse, an action may be brought to have the Court determine their homestead abandoned. This would pave the way for title to revert under your father's Will or be open to purchase by you -- whatever the facts permit.

This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted to practice law in the State of Texas only, and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to Texas. This answer is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation, and is for promotional purposes only. You should never rely on this answer alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney-client relationship.

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The Texas Probate Code and the courts set out the rights and duties of the parties in these circumstances. The stepmother, as the surviving spouse, has the right to continue to occupy the home as her homestead as long as she chooses to occupy it. If, however, she ceases to occupy it, she would lose this homestead right of a surviving spouse.

Texas courts have held that a surviving spouse who exercises her right to occupy the homestead must pay all property taxes and mortgage interest. The owners of the title to the property are responsible for paying casualty insurance premiums and the mortgage principal payments. Since you own a 1/2 undivided interest in the home, you are responsible for 1/2 of the insurance premiums and mortgage principal payment; your stepmother is responsible for the other half plus all of the property taxes and mortgage interest. She is also responsible for maintaining the property.

My answer relies on the facts as provided, and it is generally not possible to address all contingencies in a brief answer. As a result, my answer is necessarily preliminary and should not be relied on without consulting an attorney who can fully evaluate your circumstances.

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