Houston Chronicle

A meeting could straighten out campaign concerns

- RONALD LIPMAN

Q: I live in a high-rise condo, which has had most of the same board members and general manager for more than 10 years. It appears to be well-managed, although there is little communicat­ion from the general manager or the board, and only minimal financial transparen­cy. Board members always run unopposed. This changed in the last election when someone not on the board ran and lost, and we later learned that the general manager and her assistant were campaignin­g against him, telling people that he wanted to “overthrow the board,” get rid of pets and implement costly changes that would raise maintenanc­e fees. None of these assertions were true. Are employees of HOAs allowed to do this? Is there a way to have a fair election next time?

A: What the general manager and her assistant did was not against the law. However, their actions could be described as unwise because they might find themselves replaced sooner than later, if their behavior and spreading of false informatio­n is revealed to the owners in your building.

You should consider meeting with the board and all management personnel, perhaps with other owners who share your opinions. Ask questions and engage in meaningful and candid discussion­s about the issues you identified. It might turn out that your perception of what happened during the last election was based on misinforma­tion. You might also be able to discuss ways to ensure fair elections going forward.

Q: My husband passed away recently, and he had a will. I have been told that I need to have his will probated or possibly do a muniment of title. The only property that was in his name passing through probate is our home. Is there any way I can get around probate or muniment of title, because that will cost me a lot of money? With my husband passing, my income will be cut almost in half.

A: Some sort of probate pro

ceeding will eventually be needed if you want to establish that you are now the sole owner of the home.

But you have at least four years following your husband’s death to probate his will. (You can even probate the will later than four years if you are not in default for doing so. Judges often allow probates to proceed after the four-year deadline.)

If you plan to live in the home until your death, then you could simply do nothing. The fact that you never probated your husband’s will would become the problem of the persons who inherit the home from you.

However, if you think you might want to sell the home (or refinance your mortgage, if you have one) at some point before you die, then probating his will now would be the right course of action.

The informatio­n in this column is intended to provide a general understand­ing of the law, not legal advice. Readers with legal problems, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult attorneys for advice on their particular circumstan­ces. Ronald Lipman of the Houston law firm Lipman & Associates is board-certified in estate planning and probate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specializa­tion. Email questions to stateyourc­ase@ lipmanpc.com

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