Expenses in connection with the homestead may arise during its use and occupancy, and questions may arise as to who should be liable for these expenses: the homestead claimant or the estate and the remainder-men. The Texas Supreme Court has held that a homestead is akin to a life estate. Therefore, expenses will generally be apportioned on the same basis as if the homestead claimant were the owner of a legal life estate, with the heirs being the remainder-men.
2.5(e)(1) Mortgage Payments.
If the homestead is so burdened with debt as to be essentially worthless, the survivor may elect to receive an allowance in lieu of homestead. See below. Often however, the survivor chooses to assert his homestead rights despite the debt on the property. The question then becomes whether the decedent’s estate should pay any portion of the debt, and if so how much. A life tenant is generally responsible for the portion of the mortgage payment representing interest; therefore, the surviving spouse as homestead claimant will usually bear this expense and the estate will be liable for its share of the principal payments. However, the will must be examined to determine if the executor intended otherwise. If the decedent directed that all debts be paid, and did not expressly authorize the executor to extend or continue existing indebtedness, an argument might be made that prepayment was required under the terms of the will.
The homestead claimant, like a life tenant, is responsible for the expenses of care and maintenance, such as cost of repairs.
The life tenant (and therefore, the homestead claimant) is responsible for ordinary taxes.
The life tenant is not under a duty to insure the remainder.
8. Trimble v. Farmer, 157 Tex. 533, 305 S.W.2d 157 (1957) and Sargeant v. Sargeant, 118 Tex. 343, 15 S.W.2d 589 (1929).
9. Murphy v. Slaton, 154 Tex. 35, 273 S.W.2d 588 (1954).
10. Roberts v. Roberts, 136 Tex. 255, 150 S.W.2d 236 (1941); Trimble v. Farmer 157 Tex. 533, 305 S.W.2d 157 (1957).
11. Richardson v. McCloskey, 276 S.W. 820 (1925 Tex. Comm. Ap.); Hill v. Hill, 623 S.W.2d 779 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 1981, writ ref’d n.r.e.)