Who pays property taxes: the second-wife or the decedent’s children?

Dear Mr. Premack: My grandfather got married, and then passed away only two months later. His Will left the house to my dad and his brother. We know his new wife can stay in the house as long as she wants, but she owns two other houses and one of them is homesteaded. If she lives in grandfather’s house, what expenses must she pay? Is she responsible for the taxes? If she does not pay the taxes when due, what are we to do? – LW

It is generally true that a surviving spouse is entitled to reside in the marital homestead, even if the children inherit ownership of the house. In this situation, with a two-month marriage and with the wife maintaining another homestead, your father and uncle may be able to argue that your grandfather’s house never became her place of residence. If that is true, then she does not have the right to live in his house under the Texas homestead law.

If they do not want to push that point (in your letter you are willing to concede her right to live in his house) then they want to know what expenses she must pay. Under various Texas statutes and court cases, the expenses are split as follows:

The Mortgage: the surviving spouse makes the interest payment and the new owners (your father and uncle) must pay the principal due with each monthly payment.

The Homeowner’s Insurance: the new