Abandoned house stuck in probate

Is there anything I can do to move forward on this house?
I found an abandoned house last year that has great rehab potential. Good location, decent size, structure still in good shape just totally overgrown and ugly. I stuck a sign on the door offering to buy it and was called by a realtor. With his info and my research this is what I know so far.
An Elderly man and his retarded son lived in the house. The elderly father died and the son was moved to a nursing home. The realtor was working with a non profit organization to clean up the property. (They removed huge amounts of trash, furniture, carpet, etc). He told me it was in probate and would be available to buy in a few weeks. I called him several times over the next 8 weeks and each time all he could tell me “It’s still in probate”. That was last fall. The house has been vacant for at least a year and a half by now. I felt like I developed a good rapport with this realtor but for whatever reason he fails to return my phone calls. I can only assume the house is stuck in probate somehow. In the meantime the house is deteriorating quickly.
Where can I go to check on the status of this house and what the hang up is? Would there have been a trustee assigned to take care of the retarded sons affairs? I suspect the father died without a will.
Any info regarding this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Kathy

Hi -

In Texas, probate can last a long, long time. And you should realize that everyone has a will. Either they have one of their own which indicates their choices or they have the one the State imposes on them and which leaves most, if not all, of the important decisions to the court system and to strangers.

In other words, there is a plan of distribution in place – it’s just that it may not be voluntary.

You can check with the local courthouse for information (depending on your connections there) and to check out the status of the probate. If you’re only interested in the real estate, you can usually get a simple O&E from a title company for little (less than $100) or nothing (sometimes, if you use their services regularly they won’t charge you at all).

There may be other issues here: that nursing home is getting paid somehow – insurance, cash from the estate, trust funds, State or Federal money.

Those last parties can get pretty touchy about folks transferring assets to prevent them from collecting.

That said, if the property warrants it, do some more research. Better yet, do the research anyway because sooner or later you’re going to run into this scenario (or a variation of it) again; maybe more than once.

Talk to an attorney (someone who handles title issues or estates – or both). Visit with your banker about these “problems”. And get to know a good title company who will work with you.

Again, you should get to know these people anyway. It’s just that this is a good opportunity for you to do it now. Buy them a lunch or dinner and you may be surprised at what you learn.

Take care,

Eric C

The first attorney to talk to is the one who is supposed to be handling the probate. Properties can be sold before the probate case is completed, and there is no reason the place should be allowed to run down for so long. The beneficiaries of the estate should be talking loudly.

Is the house still abandoned?

Al Kartaltepe

Yes, apparently it is still stuck somewhere. I didn’t have time in June to do much more research on it. But, I think I will brush the cobwebs off of my paperwork and head to the courthouse to see what more I can find out! Kathy