Debt from my fathers estate in Texas

My dad passed away a week ago and left no will. He has about 7 thousand in medical and credit card debt. i cant afford a lawyer and dont want to do the probate thing is there any way for me to close out his accounts and distrubute his assets to my sister and i

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Aug 26, 2015
Help after father's death
by: Vee

My father was in a nursing facility in Texas for about 6 months .... upon his death he owed a balance of 15,000.00. He had no real estate. His checking account was joint with me. In addition he had other medical bills and some credit card debt I was his power of attorney ... he had a will naming me as executor of his estate. This was a texas will. I live in Oklahoma.

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We're sorry but we're not sure what your question is. Are you asking if you are responsible for your father's nursing home bills? Typically unless you agreed to pay them you shouldn't be. There are a few states where they can try to collect from family members. Since this is in Texas you may want to contact the Texas Consumer Complaint Center to see if they can offer you some free advice.

Jan 13, 2013
Debt from my fathers estate in Texas

So sorry about the death of your father.

You did not give me all of the information I need to answer your question. For example, I don’t know what kinds of assets he died with. Certain kinds of assets must go through probate; others do not have to. For example, the proceeds from a life insurance policy don’t go through probate. The same is true with the money in a retirement account.
Assets like real estate, a vehicle, and/or bank accounts for example must go through probate however, before they can be legally transferred to someone else.

If the value of the assets that must be probated is not a lot however, his estate will probably qualify for a less expensive and faster process than the traditional one. The attorney who helps with the process will be paid for his or her services out of your father's estate at the end of the process and none of your father’s assets can be transferred until the attorney is paid. Note: If your father's estate qualifies for the alternative probate process, there may be no need to hire an attorney.

Since your father has no will, someone must go to the probate court in the county where he lived at the time of his death to initiate probate. The court will appoint someone as "administrator" of his estate. The administrator will take the estate through probate. For example, he or she will inventory all of your father's assets and notify all of his creditors of his death so they can file claims with the court to be paid what they are owed. Those creditors will be paid in a certain order because in probate, some creditors are more important than others. The administrator may have to sell some of your father's assets to pay them. Any creditors that do not get paid cannot look to you or your sister for the money they are owed unless you co-signed for any of the unpaid debts or the debts were joint debts between you and your father.

Once as many as possible of his debts have been paid, anything that remains in his estate will be distributed to his legal heirs according to Texas’ inheritance law. This law applies when someone dies without a will. It spells out exactly who is entitled to the deceased's assets. If someone other than those individuals end up with the assets, your father's legal heirs can file lawsuits to get what they are entitled to.

Finally, your father's creditors are apt to file lawsuits if the probate process is not initiated. If they win, you would have to give back the assets you wrongfully received.

Not following the laws and rules that apply when someone dies can get you in trouble and cost you money. Therefore, I recommend that you identify which of your father's assets must go through probate and find out if your father's estate qualifies for the informal probate process. The probate court clerk may be able to give you this information or you may need to consult a probate law attorney. An initial consultation should not cost a bundle.

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