I'm a German married to a U.S. citizen, we're living in Germany. My father-in-law is retired and lives on his own property in Texas.

Due to some misfortunes and health problems (and the medical bills connected to that), he is not going to be able to pay his property taxes in January. None of the siblings of my wife is able (or willing) to pay, so I am stuck doing it (again). Selling some of the property is out of the question as there are big emotional bonds to the place.

I had to pay the taxes a couple years ago which were supposed to be paid back to me (at the time another in-law was living on the property and supposed to help pay the money back - of course, this never happened). I am not expecting to ever get the money that I have to "loan" for the property taxes back from my father-in-law. What I do want to avoid though, is that somebody inherits the place later (and only does so, because I paid the property taxes) and does not pay me back even though they sit on a property worth 100k $+.

In Germany, you could put some entry in the land title register which would e.g. state that you cannot sell the land before some loan is paid back (if applicable with interest) and if someone inherits the place they have to pay back the loan within a certain time frame or the ownership of the place goes to the lender (foreclosure would be another choice).

Is something like this possible in Texas (something like a lien holder entry in a car title)? What would it be called? In which register would an entry have to be made? Do you need a lawyer? Does it need to be notarized? Or do you just have to go to the courthouse?

Currently, I have no idea what terms to search for, because I am lacking the "buzz words".

  • 1
    The buzzword you want for Texas is “deed of trust”. It appears that you need a third party to hold the title to the property in trust until the loan has been repaid, but I’m no expert, which is why this isn’t an answer.
    – Mike Scott
    Dec 23, 2018 at 8:27
  • Is he over 65 years old?
    – Hart CO
    Dec 23, 2018 at 14:34
  • @HartCO: He's turning 65 in 2019.
    – DrP3pp3r
    Dec 23, 2018 at 17:20
  • Please drastically shorten this question. Merry xmas.
    – Fattie
    Dec 25, 2018 at 0:51
  • @Fattie: Speaking in terms of money "emotions" are "total bs". Agreed. The property has been in the family for a long time, my wife grew up there and living far away from home this pivot point is important to her. And to me, my wife's feelings are not measurable in terms of money. Also paying the taxes (for my father-in-law) is not my problem. I got the money to do so. I just do not feel like sponsoring some (let's say) "less motivated" in-laws and pay for their lifestyle.
    – DrP3pp3r
    Dec 25, 2018 at 11:37

1 Answer 1


First, I would contact the tax assessor's office in his county to see if he qualifies for a property tax exemption (due to his age/ability to pay). Sounds like Texas does have a property tax assistance program that may be helpful, and they might collect from estate after death.

If the tax must be paid or you want to ensure you get paid back for other times you've given money, then I would contact an estate lawyer in Texas to come up with the best method. Whether living trust or something else, it's likely worth involving an attorney to make sure things are handled properly now in a way that doesn't require adjustment for any subsequent payments you make.

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