Livens & Reed, PLLC

An estate full of clutter may require careful cleaning

Perhaps one of the most emotional and tedious jobs a Texas family has is cleaning out a home after a loved one dies. This may be especially true if the loved one was sentimental and held on to countless trinkets and other memorabilia. While it may be tempting to bag it all up and toss it on the curb for trash or recycling, handling the situation in this manner may create serious problems, especially for the estate executor or personal representative.

The fact is that among the piles or drawers full of seemingly worthless stuff, the deceased may have stashed valuable items that legally belong to the heirs of the estate. Instead of clearing it out in one fell swoop, it may be wiser to take the time to organize the contents of the home and sort through the items carefully. While this may be time consuming, many people are careless with money, deeds and other documents, and haste increases the risk of disposing of vital or valuable objects.

Another fact an executor must be aware of is that the deceased may have made verbal promises that contradict the contents of a will. Even if there is no will, a promise that is not written down does not carry weight with the law. Additionally, it is common for people to tag items they want to leave for specific people. Without a will or other legal document, an executor is not obligated to distribute items from the estate that are tagged.

An executor dealing with an estate in disarray may also be dealing with conflicts among the heirs. It is not appropriate for heirs to enter the home of the deceased and take items they want until probate is complete and designated items have been distributed according to Texas law. An executor who anticipates disputes among heirs would do well to reach out to an attorney who has experience handling complex estate matters.

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