When my dad passed away in 2017, I was the executor of his will. One of the things an executor has to do is prepare an Inventory, Appraisal and List of Claims - basically, gather the decedent's stuff, figure out what it's worth and list any claims the estate might have against somebody. This has to be done within 90 days of receiving Letters Testamentary (the court document that lets you represent the estate). In the real estate section, I listed my dad's home in San Antonio and his lakehouse at Canyon Lake. That's it. That's all the real estate he owned.
Not exactly - see the picture above this paragraph? That's 1.549 acres in Travis County that was apparently omitted from the legal description in a sale of family land by my grandmother and her siblings back in 1963. They didn't know it was omitted, they thought they'd sold the entire 118 acres. The County apparently didn't know it either at the time, but 54 years later, somebody at the Appraisal District said, "Hey....nobody's been paying taxes on this acre and a half for the last 54 years. I wonder what's up with that?". Well, Granny, my great-aunt and my great-uncle - the people who sold the land - had all died years ago. The County paid good money to have somebody go through all the probate records and figure out who the second- and third-generation heirs were, and - you guessed it - tagged them with a bill for $11K of back taxes. Mind you, these were people who thought their parents/grandparents had sold the land over 50 years earlier. I approached all the adjoining landowners - nobody wanted to buy it. It's landlocked, in a drainage area, overgrown and (as you can see), one of the neighbors decided it would be a great place to dump all his old vehicles. The County appraised it for over $50K.
It appears the issue is about to be resolved (over a year later) with nobody's credit getting dinged with a tax lien; however, it took time, money, a largely cooperative family and Tylenol to resolve the issue, and if I hadn't been a probate lawyer, I don't know that I'd have any idea where to even start. If you find yourself in a similar situation, do yourself a great favor and contact an experienced real estate or probate lawyer. In fact, when a family member dies, it's always a good idea to consult a probate lawyer, even (maybe ESPECIALLY) if your family is saying the will doesn't need to be probated.
As always, the above is based on Texas law because I'm a Texas lawyer. It is legal information, not legal advice. Every estate is different, so be sure to consult an attorney if you have questions or concerns about a legal matter.
Tomorrow is moving day at the Jacobson Law Firm. Yup, we're packing everything up here at the place we've been practicing for the past 17 years and moving it all...50 feet south. From Suite 201 to Suite 301. It's a bigger space with a fresher feel and we're all excited about the change.
Did I mention we're moving 50 feet? Guess what? We still have to pack everything, look at what we REALLY need and what we can get rid of, figure out what needs to be replaced and what just won't work in the new configuration, notify everybody, change the letterhead and business cards, get phones and internet switched over. For 50 feet.
Why? Well, we can't grow any more in our current space. We have been, as our realtor and friend Jonathan Collins of Valcor Commercial Real Estate described it, "extremely efficient" in our use of space, but God has blessed us with a ton of work and new clients and it's just time. That 50-foot move will allow us to serve more clients, better and more efficiently, while giving all of us a little more elbow room. Many of the things we've taken for granted (broken file cabinets, out-of-date books, etc.) now have to be addressed, and that's a good thing. If the process of moving 50 feet results in us "helping people for life" at a higher level, it's worth it. Let's go! Purge! Pack! Move!
I'm tired already...
Musings, observations, the occasional whineage and some funny stuff.