What should be my steps to handle an estate now that my grandmother has passed?

UPDATED: Oct 22, 2012

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What should be my steps to handle an estate now that my grandmother has passed?

About 2 years ago she had a new Will written wherein my brother would receive her estate; if he couldn’t assume the responsibility of maintaining the home it shall come to me. We are splitting the oil rights to her land. My brother left for school and said he didn’t want the house and when the time came would sign it over to me. I tried to apply for legal aid but was denied because of my grandmother being behind in home taxes.I cannot afford a probate attorney. What exactly should I do?

Asked on October 22, 2012 under Estate Planning, Texas


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Florida estate law requires that the personal representative of an estate have a lawyer.  Other states may not require an attorney, but it would be very difficult to manage an estate without one.  You can call the probate court in the county where your grandmother passed away and ask if an attorney is required.  You can also ask how to identify probate attorneys in the area and then call them to see if they can help you.  Some probate attorneys will take their fees from the estate assets.

You have to consider the value of your grandmother's home and the oil rights to the land.  If there is value in this property, it could be sold to pay for the probate. 

If your grandmother was behind in her taxes, the taxing authority will have a lien against the property.  That authority could foreclose on the property to pay the lien.  Some tax authorities sell these liens to private individuals or companies (Florida counties do this) and those individuals can be difficult to deal with.  I suggest you start by speaking with the taxing authorities.  Go to that office and speak in person with a clerk or other representative.  Ask about the status of your grandmother's property and what will happen if no one pays the taxes.  Perhaps they can give you some suggestions for handling the matter.

It is also possible that your state will permit transfer of your grandmother's property without opening an estate.  Florida does not permit this, but other states allow the deed to be changed by filing the will.  You might speak with the county recorder (the clerk that handles the official records for your grandmother's county) to see how to transfer title to the property now that she has passed away.

Since you seem to have limited finances, I suggest you exhaust the public sources of information.  Good luck.


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