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Law suite on Grandmothers house/estate

Discussion in 'Estate Administration & Probate Court' started by RV Mike, Feb 9, 2021.

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  1. RV Mike

    RV Mike Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
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    being sued for back tax as one of the heirs on Grandmothers house. She died over 10 years ago. There was a will that was was never probated. grand & great grand children listed as heirs. One great grand child lives in the home. But has not kept up with the taxes. If the taxes are pay would it be possible to sell the home to pay for the loan needed to pay the back taxes & divide anything left between the heirs? Or what would happen if we let them take the home?
     
  2. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Being sued by whom? What does "back tax" mean? Given your statement that your grandmother's estate was never probated, what do you mean when you say that you are/were "one of the heirs on [her] house"?

    If you were simply "listed" in the will as an heir of the estate but the estate was never probated, then the house should still be in your grandmother's name. Correct?

    In the abstract, virtually anything is possible.

    Who are "them"?
     
    RV Mike likes this.
  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Possibly, it all depends on whether there are tax liens against the deed.

    If you were a potential heir who never received an ownership interest in the property, you might be able to walk away from this mess with YOUR finances intact.

    There is no legal requirement that a named heir accept what is being bequeathed via the will.

    If, as in your example, the estate was never probated, the proposed heirs are likely NOT on the hook for any unpaid taxes.


    If things as are as I postulated above, probably NOTHING to you.

    The governmental entity that claims taxes were unpaid will likely seize the property and attempt to recoup a few dollars via a sheriff's sale.

    The good news for you, (IF YOUR NAME ISN'T ON THE DEED) because the estate wasn't probated is you aren't on the hook for anything!
     
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  4. RV Mike

    RV Mike Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Yes the house is still in Grandmothers name. "THEM" are the lawyers office for the school & city taxes, that have sent notice to all known & unknown heirs that there is a suite.
     
  5. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Since title is still in your grandmother's name, are you sure that you are being sued? Were you served with a summons and complaint/petition? If so, you're going to need to retain legal counsel.

    Also, since title is still in your grandmother's name, the answers to your questions are as follows:

    The only way to sell the home would be for someone to probate your grandmother's estate. If you or any of the other heirs are interested in doing that, you should consult with a probate attorney ASAP. I don't know if or to what extent the failure to probate the estate shortly after the date of death will cause problems.

    You defined "them" to mean "the lawyers [sic] office for the school & city taxes," and I assume you meant the lawyers that represent the school (district?) and city. In any event, if a tax sale is conducted as a result of unpaid taxes, then "what would happen" is that the property will be sold (presumably, at an auction). Even if the house sells for more than the outstanding tax debt and any other encumbrances, you won't receive anything because you don't own the house. Again, it will be necessary to probate the estate.
     
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  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    That gives rise to my next question. Did somebody knock on your door and hand you a summons and complaint with your name on it where it says Defendant? If not then it might only be either just a threat of a law suit (not suite) or a suit has been filed against the property.

    Go to your local court website and look up your grandmother's name and the names of the heirs. Or call the lawyer and ask for the case number and court location so you can verify it.

    Or, upload a copy of the "notice" redacting any identifying information.
     
    RV Mike likes this.
  7. welkin

    welkin Active Member

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    Your grandmother died 10 years ago and a great grand child lives in the house.

    This is a tax foreclosure. But in most states tax foreclosures happen at the end of the second year of tax arrears. So the grand child has been paying taxes for at least 8 years. So how much tax is owned and how much is the home worth?
     
  8. RV Mike

    RV Mike Law Topic Starter New Member

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    We are not sure how many years back tax are owed more than two on city /school, county tax is 4-5 years with partial payments on & off.
    The city school tax is 15k estimated plus court cost. Also out standing is county tax that is 10k. To catch every thing back up is about 30k. Not sure on the home value. The home is in need of repair & located in a declining neighborhood. Should be worth 2 times the tax amount depending on repair cost.
    We need to be sure if we get a loan, We could sell the home to pay back a home equity loan on our home. Would not be able to pay the loan back overtime & could only make payments for a short time. We are on a fixed income. Forced out of work/Retired last year due to covid.
     
  9. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    How did/does the city even know of your (plural) existence if no probate or other proceedings have occurred with regard to the property?
     
  10. RV Mike

    RV Mike Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I do not know. Unless the Law firm sent it to the court house when the will was created.
     
  11. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Personal opinion, not legal advice - let the house go for the taxes.

    Saving the house will be formidable and expensive.

    It will have to be probated. That means whoever was nominated as executor will have to go to court and get papers authorizing him/her to act on behalf of the estate before anybody can do anything about anything. If that person doesn't want to do it, then somebody else will have to. Given the family's inability to handle this 10 years ago, it's probably going to need a lawyer. Lots of dollars for that.

    After that, getting a loan is going to be problematic given your financial position.

    If you could get a loan, then you are faced with getting the freeloader out of the house. After 10 years of freeloading, the freeloader isn't going to go quietly or quickly. Might take more lawyer fees and enough of a delay for the tax authority to get the house anyway.

    If you could get a loan and get the freeloader out, then you are faced with the time it takes to make repairs while the clock is running on the tax foreclosure.

    If you beat the clock on the tax foreclosure it's anybody's guess as to whether the house sells for enough to cover the loan and the repairs and realtor's commission if you use one.

    And if all that isn't enough, you'll have a handful of heirs bickering over who does what and who gets what.

    Sorry to have to paint such a bleak picture, but it's your reality going forward.
     
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  12. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Please answer these questions:

     
  13. RV Mike

    RV Mike Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks this is what I was thinking. We are hopping if we can just let it go. Can we be fined or judgment placed on us or our credit.
    Just looking at the papers it says we have been sued (IN REM ONLY)
     
  14. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Again, please answer the questions you have been asked.

    Sounds like you have been sole if, and only to the extent that, you have an interest in the property. Worst thing that happens is that any interest you might have will be extinguished. No fine or credit reporting will result.
     
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  15. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    The phrase "IN REM ONLY" means the suit is against the property, not against you personally.
     
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  16. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    None of the alleged HEIRS ere ever bequeathed the property, because the estate appears to have NOT been probated.

    Bottom line, none of the ALLEGED heirs are on the hook for the back taxes.

    My GUESS is that the SQUATTER, as in deadbeat relative, is the legal owner of the property IF someone other than the deceased is NO longer the owner.

    I've seen many cases similar to yours where the SQUATTER (-aka- deadbeat) somehow manages to get her/his name on the deed and becomes the owner of the property.

    If that DID happen here, or if it DIDN'T, the people who were supposed to be heirs are probably off the hook for any negative financial consequences resulting from the squatter's (deadbeat's) ten year, rent free escapade.

    The way for you to know is if you were served legal papers relative to the home.

    If you have NOT been served, you're PROBABLY not on the hook.

    If you want to know for SURE, head on over to the courthouse and see if you are a named defendant in any civil lawsuit.



    Loosely translated from Latin, "in rem" means: "against a thing."

    The lawsuit concerns the status of a particular piece of property, the "squatter's abode".

    In your case, in-rem jurisdiction refers to the power of a court over an item of real or personal property, most likely the place the "squatter" calls home.
     
  17. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    "An action in rem is a proceeding that takes no notice of the owner of the property but determines rights in the property that are conclusive against all the world. The object of the lawsuit is to determine the disposition of the property, regardless of who the owner is or who else might have an interest in it. Interested parties might appear and make out a case one way or another, but the action is in rem, against the thing."

    in rem

    You are not being sued personally.
     

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