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romey1

Slow Probate

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For background, my daughter's father passed away several months ago. State of Texas. He was never married and had 3 children. Two of the children are adults and my daughter is a minor. One of the adult children has already begun the probate process and is being appointed administrator. The decedent passed without leaving a will. He owned a home, several cars, and I know that he had bank accounts and investments and even some life insurance. The probate seems to be going very slowly. I don't even see that the Administratior of the estate has even been approved yet. From a very reliable, inside source, I know that one of his sister's was on his bank account, and I know that large sums of funds have been deducted from this account and given to 3 of the sisters. My understanding that each sister was given 10,000.00 each. Shouldn't this account be part of the estate? I am trying to stay clear of this whole situation , and have had no contact with the other siblings or the family, but I just feel that something wrong is going on here. It's my understanding that the Mother has also received his retirement account. I am guessing that he left her as beneficiary,. Just seems to me that a lot of things are going on, out side of these probate proceedings. My understanding is, that while in the probate process you have to get an inventory of the deceased things. Would that inventory be based on date of death? If the accounts have been liquidated or diminished, would the administrator have the right to request that funds be returned? I just see that things may be about to get real ugly.

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If he had a joint account with his sister, the money is just as much hers as it was his. Upon his death, it becomes hers. I'm not sure how you realistically expect to parse out from a joint account what "belonged" to him for the purpose of passing it through the estate. Even if he was the only one to deposit into that account, he made it his sister's money. If he named beneficiaries on accounts or policies, the money goes to those he named. Probate is for those parts of the estate not already designated to pass to someone else. It is a slow process.

 

It isn't clear if your ex ever established paternity for any of the children.

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Texas us a different world, incl as to things held as joint tenants with right of survivorship ... even between spouses.

Several months is not a long time. Yes, administrator would be obligated to assets as of death.

If your kid is a minor and you don't want to get involved, you need to protect her interests somehow, no? Seek counsel.

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I know that one of his sister's was on his bank account, and I know that large sums of funds have been deducted from this account and given to 3 of the sisters. My understanding that each sister was given 10,000.00 each. Shouldn't this account be part of the estate?

 

Depends on what you mean when you say that the sister "was on his bank account."  If it means that she was a joint owner of the account, then the funds in the account likely were not estate property and passed to her upon his death pursuant to the terms of the account agreement.

 

 

 

It's my understanding that the Mother has also received his retirement account. I am guessing that he left her as beneficiary,.

 

If, in fact, his mother was named as the beneficiary of this account, this is exactly what should have happened, and there is nothing at all "wrong" with that.

 

 

 

I just feel that something wrong is going on here. . . .  Just seems to me that a lot of things are going on, out side of these probate proceedings.

 

Well...unless you want to describe these things, all we can tell you is that vague "feelings" like this aren't relevant at all.

 

 

 

My understanding is, that while in the probate process you have to get an inventory of the deceased things. Would that inventory be based on date of death?

 

Unless Texas has laws that are dramatically different from those of pretty much every other state (and I have no reason to think it does), the administrator, once appointed, will need to prepare, file, and serve an inventory of the deceased's assets that are part of the probate estate -- i.e., all assets owned by the deceased on the date of death, other than assets held jointly with the right of survivorship, assets held in trust, or assets that have a pay-on-death beneficiary designated.

 

 

 

If the accounts have been liquidated or diminished, would the administrator have the right to request that funds be returned?

 

Any person has "the right to request" anything.  The administrator has the power to compel that anyone in possession of assets of the probate estate turn over those assets to the administrator.  The administrator also has a duty to use reasonable efforts to take possession or control of all probate assets.

 

 

 

I just see that things may be about to get real ugly.

 

In all honesty, nothing you've included in your posts supports this conclusion in the slightest, but I understand that other facts may exist that would support it.

 

 

 

I am trying to stay clear of this whole situation

 

Well...why?  You are your child's guardian, and your child is a beneficiary of the estate.  At a minimum she (via you) should be receiving copies of everything filed in the probate action.  If that's not happening, then you need to rectify that.  If it is happening, and you see something that's off, investigate further and, if necessary, consult with a local probate attorney.  Given your description of his assets, it seems reasonable to assume that your daughter's share of the estate is likely to be sufficient to justify the expense (although that obviously depends on the extent of her father's debt).  Just keep in mind that things like "bank accounts and investments and . . . life insurance" aren't or aren't likely to be part of the probate estate for the reasons explained above.

 

P.S.  You might find this article instructive:  http://www.lonestarlandlaw.com/Joint-tenancy.html.

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Please wait until you have received a complete and clear accounting of the situation before you start to make accusations that may be unfounded.  The decedent had the right to designate his assets to go to whomever, whether you agree with that decision or not.

Have you been sent any documentation about the estate at all?  At some point in the future you may want to hire your own probate attorney to get your questions/concerns answered or to get a second, unbiased opinion about what you are being told by the administrator.  Your child will probably inherit something but first the decedent's debts need to be paid before assets are distributed.

Probate is NOT a fast process and will probably take a few months.

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