How Texas Homestead Laws Can Protect Your Inheritance

When your parent or spouse dies unexpectedly, the last thing you want to have to worry about is losing a home. Whether it’s your childhood home full of memories, or a newer property that has a mortgage, the Texas constitution has homestead protections to keep your inheritance safe and homes out of the hands of creditors. Depending on the types of liabilities your spouse or parents may have had, this law may be able to help you continue living with as much normalcy as possible.


What are Texas homestead laws?

In Texas, any property that is or was used as a primary residence is considered a homestead. Although the term “homestead” gives the impression of a large plot of land, rural, suburban, and urban properties are also included as qualifying properties. The size of the property also plays a role in its designation as a homestead, so if you have questions about the specifics, make sure you discuss your options with experienced legal counsel.

Homestead protection laws protect families and individuals from foreclosure and homelessness in the event of a substantial change in circumstances. The laws are designed to prevent creditors from seizing property as a means of collecting on a debt, however, they do not cover pre-existing mortgages or property liens. There is a lot of wiggle room in terms of how the law is interpreted to give more families a better chance to stay in their homes.


Texas homestead protection laws and inheritance

In the event that your spouse passes unexpectedly, the homestead protection law enables you to continue living on the property regardless of whether your spouse has given the property to someone else in their will. The general idea is that the family unit is protected for the benefit of society. The surviving spouse has the exclusive right to live in the home as long as they like for the remainder of their life.

Continuing to live on the property does not come without strings, however. The surviving spouse or children are required to continue to maintain the property, and pay mortgage interest and property taxes regardless of the owner, for as long as they reside there. Additionally, the executor of the estate must set aside the property for the surviving spouse and children to live in the event that there are multiple properties, which is why it’s important to involve a real estate lawyer early in the process.


Homestead protection law limitations

Although the protections exist for surviving family members to continue on with their daily lives, family dynamics may play a role in creating additional complex legal consequences. For example, if an individual intends to leave their family home to someone other than their surviving spouse, such as children from a previous marriage, the spouse still has the exclusive right to live in the home as long as they want. The law is specifically designed to protect immediate family members and minor children, thus potentially preventing adult children from claiming their deceased parent’s property as outlined in their will. If you are in this position, it may be your responsibility to enable the surviving spouse and minor children to live on the property. 

When it comes to your family, you need to make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities regarding the assets you leave behind or have the potential to inherit.  Albright & Lumpkin, PC can assist you throughout this complicated process. If you find yourself in need of legal counsel in regard to Texas homestead laws, or your family estate plan contact us at (713) 455-6661 or online to schedule your consultation.

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