Who Gets the House? Who Pays the Property Taxes?

According to an old idiom, death and taxes are the only things in life that are guaranteed. When the two come together, things can be confusing and stressful. Property taxes are the last thing you need to worry about after the loss of a loved one, divorce, or other special circumstance that might make property taxes a little tricky. Many people fall behind on property taxes during these trying times, and the Home Tax Solutions team is always here to help. In this week’s blog, we’re taking a closer look at how you and your family can plan ahead to handle property taxes in the event of unforeseen medical expenses, college education, loss of a job, death, divorce, and other special circumstances.

Property Ownership & Tax Responsibilities After a Death 

The easiest way to prevent issues from arising after death is to make sure you have a written Last Will & Testament in place. This ensures that your heirs know who you wish to receive your home or other property. Many people die intestate, without a testament of how their possessions will be distributed. This is where most concerns with property ownership (and tax responsibilities) arise. Until you determine who will receive the actual property, there is likely to be disagreement about whose responsibility it is to pay the taxes. 

Whatever the situation, the property tax bill will show up in October, and someone needs to pay it. In some cases, inheriting a home also means inheriting a tax debt if the previous owner is behind on their property taxes. The number one recommendation in these difficult times is to reach out to your county appraisal district right away. Communicate clearly about the circumstances, and, in many cases, the appraisal district will work with you to establish a repayment plan.  

Property Ownership & Tax Responsibilities After Divorce

Divorce can be another tricky situation. After a divorce or separation, the decision about who gets the house and who pays the property taxes may be complicated. In some cases, one party receives the house in a court ruling after the divorce, but the other party is mandated to pay the taxes. In other cases, the parties maintain shared ownership, but one or the other of them is granted permission to reside in the home for a certain number of years. In even more complicated rulings, a minor child may be granted residency rights to the home with their parent who was granted custody, but the home’s ownership and property tax responsibilities may still be shared between parents or the responsibility of the non-custodial parent. There are many complicated situations that can arise during a divorce, but if the property tax bill isn’t paid on time, it’s still subject to the same fees and other consequences. Any good divorce lawyer will ensure that property tax payments are included as part of the final divorce decree. In most cases, the issues arise when it comes to enforcing these decrees. Again, communicating clearly with the appraisal office is essential. In this instance, it’s also important to keep your lawyer apprised of failure to pay property taxes by the responsible party. 

Other Complex Property Tax Situations

In addition to death and the legal dissolution of a marriage, there are a number of other situations that can make the payment of property taxes unclear, causing home owners to fall behind. Some other situations where property tax payment may be disputed include:

  • Owner of a property verbally transfers ownership, but the transfer is never put into writing
  • A person receives a deed, when purchasing a home, that is deemed invalid or the transaction is not recorded with the county clerk’s office
  • A home is sold while ownership rights are still disputed or there is an outstanding lien on the home 

How the Home Tax Solutions Team Helps

At Home Tax Solutions, we’ve seen it all. From messy divorces to wills that sat intestate for decades. Whatever your situation, one of our knowledgeable loan officers would be happy to take a look at your documents and help you determine what the best course of action will be. To get started, call one of our five locations across Texas. In order to serve all 254 counties across the state, we have offices in Dallas, Austin, Houston, McAllen, and San Antonio. Wherever you are, there’s a Home Tax Solutions team nearby.

Austin: 512-212-9396

Dallas: 214-420-1814

Houston: 281-940-7436

McAllen: 956-622-5512

San Antonio: 210-951-2211