An update on my nephew’s estate battles:
To recap – my nephew’s father, with whom he had no relationship, died and the widow told everyone who would listen he didn’t have a will. Turns out, they did have reciprocal wills, drafted a mere 6 years previously, as well as a living trust, and her daughter from a previous marriage was trustee. My nephew was a beneficiary (correct term?) of 1/2 of the trust property.
After his dad died, the wife continued depositing his oil and gas royalty checks into their joint account. My nephew initiated administration proceedings, as the wife clearly wasn’t going to (she actually asked him, “what is probate?” when she tried to get him to sign the house over to her).
Judgment was rendered in accordance with Texas law, giving my nephew 2/3 separate property (his father’s inherited mineral rights), 1/2 community property (the one house) and the widow 1/3 life estate in separate property and life estate in 1/2 community property.
The widow abandoned the house (there is close to $1,000,000 in medical bills – he had no medical insurance). The medical providers have yet (3 years next month) to file a lien on the house, but it is abandoned and the county has filed a tax suit (but has not served the estate).
Meanwhile, the widow had bought another house in the same city as her daughter. During discovery, my nephew’s attorney noticed income from property in Arkansas on a joint tax return. When prompted, the widow’s attorney advised that that was rental property that was mistakenly included on the tax return, as that property was actually in a trust. When asked about the trust, voila, they produced the 2009 will. Now, the widow has passed away*, and the daughter has filed a Bill of Review asking the court to set aside the Judgment as the will names her as executor.
The daughter is now selling her mother’s current house (which also had back taxes on it), and has purchased acreage in a future Hill Country homesite development.
The widow jotted down a hand-written will a month after her husband died, leaving all to her daughter. I assume the trust is now empty, since they sold the house. But of course the daughter probated the handwritten will, not the 2009 will, even though now she is trying to get her stepfather’s 2009 will probated. I guess you can have your cake and eat it too…