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Sometimes It’s not “One and Done”: Difficulties of Probating the Surviving Parent’s Estate

Difficulties of Probating the Surviving Parent’s Estate

Texas has relatively efficient probate system.  It has been designed to provide a number of options to allow residents to select the least expensive and quickest method to probate an estate.  In fact, Texas has developed abbreviated probate proceedings to deal with small estates, including individuals that really only own a house or land.  However, a common misconception is that the house (or land) automatically transferred to the surviving spouse when the first parent died because both mom and dad’s names were on the deed.  This is almost never the case.

There is a deed that will operate to transfer title to the longest living owner.  However, it is rarely utilized in Texas.  Consequently, when the longer living spouse passes, the heirs are left to probate two estate (i.e. mom’s estate and dad’s estate) in order to effectively transfer all interests in the property to the heirs.  This not only increases the burden (by focusing the costs of two probates into one time period) it can also raise legal difficulties (i.e. additional expenses) if too much time has passed since the first parent’s death.

To avoid this issue, you should speak with a legal professional when either one of your parents pass in order to clear up an ownership issues in a timely manner.  Taking action has the added benefit of centralizing ownership in the surviving parent, which should allow him/her the unfettered control over their property to take the actions necessary to sell or otherwise manage their property during their lifetime.

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