Estate Administration


In re Estate of Casida, 13 S.W.3d 519 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 2000, no pet.).


Decedent’s Son and Step-Daughter disagreed over the homestead character of Decedent’s house. Son and Step-Daughter essentially agreed that the house had been Decedent’s homestead but Step-Daughter argued that Decedent had abandoned the homestead for the last ten years of his life because he lived elsewhere for most of the time. The trial court agreed with Step-Daughter.

The appellate court reversed. The court indicated that “[w]hen homestead rights are once shown to exist in property, they are presumed to continue, and anyone asserting an abandonment has the burden of proving it by competent evidence.” Casida at 521. The evidence showed that although Decedent lived in various locations in another state, he did return to the alleged homestead two to four times a year. In addition, there was no evidence that Decedent purchased a home elsewhere or removed his furnishings from the alleged homestead. The court thus held that the trial court abused its discretion in determining that Decedent abandoned the homestead. The effect of the house being homestead property then became relevant.

Son was unmarried and he remained with the family. Thus, the homestead descended free from the claims of most of Decedent’s creditors. Probate Code § 271. However, this fact did not give Son the right to remain in the homestead because he is not one of the parties entitled to occupy the homestead, that is, the surviving spouse or a minor child. Thus, Step-Daughter may demand a partition of the homestead.

Moral: The existence of an unmarried adult child living in the homestead will cause the homestead to pass free of a decedent’s debts but will not give this child the right to occupy the homestead.