What are my rights regarding my mother’s estate?

My mother passed away 7 months and left no Will. She had a large home and about 50 acres of land. I have an older brother and older sister and my older sister is asking for me and my brother to sign over our power of attorney of my mother’s estate to her so she can refinance the estate in her name. I don’t think that this is what I want to do but I don’t know what other legal options I have. Do I have to do this?

Asked on September 15, 2012 under Estate Planning, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you sign over your rights to your sister, then you could end up forfeiting your interest in any part of your mother's estate.  If your sister wants to keep the land, then she needs to get a loan to purchase the land from the estate.  From the sale of land, then the proceeds can be distributed to the heirs equally.  Under probate law, if a person dies without a will and with no surviving spouse, then the estate is to be divided equally among the children.  Your sisters plan essentially cuts each of you out.  If you don't agree with the plan you need to refuse to sign the new power of attorney.  You can also file a motion to probate the estate, even without a will, so that you can get permission from the court to dispose of the property and finalize any other details related to the estate (like filing a final income tax, settling any outstanding debts, paying property taxes, etc.).  This will also help insulate you from any potential, personal liabilities associated with the closing of the estate.  You need to find an attorney that is familiar with "probate law".  Some people also call this "wills and trusts" law.  Either title gets you someone who will understand what you need and what you want to accoplish.

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