My mother's estate is only in her name. Can I sell her house? - AgingCare.com

My mother's estate is only in her name. Can I sell her house?

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My 92 year old mother died on 12/2/16. I am the sole beneficiary on her will, followed by my husband (if I should die first), followed by a trust to my brother (if both me AND my husband are deceased) who lives in a group home for the mentally disabled, if both me and my husband are deceased. The money would go to the HOME, not my brother ... my question is: My mother owned her home. No mortgage. Only HER name is on the deed to the house. No one else's. I want to sell her house immediately. Can I do this, if , as stated on her will, I am the sole beneficiary to all her assets ? TY.

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Nina

Yes it is best to use an attorney in the same state as your mom. Since the estate will be probated, the lawyer can file the appropriate paper work with the court and go to any hearings that are where a presence of parties would be requested. Since this appears to be a simple probate, you can also search for an attorney who also does Probates as well.
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Nina, any attorney who's ignored as many calls as the one you've contacted is NOT reliable. Of all the law firms for which I worked, not one of them would ignore a client. If an attorney was in court, the secretary would so advise, either when taking the call or in a return call. In smaller firms, receptionists also call clients to advise that the call was received but that the attorney won't be able to return it, for whatever legitimate reason.

Forget the attorney who ignores calls. That's a red flag right up front. If calls are ignored now, what can you expect later? Dump him or her. Find an attorney in the county in which your mother lived.

You can contact either the State Bar for the state or the county bar for the county of our mother's residence. As GSA noted, they're more likely to be up to speed on probate requirements. You don't want to have to pay for an out of town or out of state attorney's learning curve.

Either the local county or state bar might have specific subgroups, including one for estate planning attorneys, for elder law attorneys, for real estate attorneys, etc. This is your best shot at getting someone who's experienced unless you get a recommendation.

Even then, review the firm's web site, see if there are articles published by the probate or elder law section, speak with the attorney or his secretary, ask about fees, etc. Try to determine if the attorney is active in probate matters within the legal community, or does he/she just process clients and cases w/o showing some community involvement? Do your homework before retaining someone. And come to the first meeting with a list of questions.
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Nina, it's usually best to use an attorney from the same state as the person whose estate is being probated as the attorney will be most familiar with the laws of that state and exactly what you need to do to satisfy the probate courts in that state. Some states actually have a period of time that you cannot transfer or sell assets in order to settle the debts of the estate before you dispose of assets. Also, to be honest, the attorney of that state is likely to have been in front of probate judges in your mother's state and which will hopefully reduce the amount of time spent on the small estate. You'd hate to be paying hourly fees to your attorney to be reading up on the state requirements of another state:) If you can't get a return call, you can contact the State Bar in your mother's state for a referral I'm sure.
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So my mom's lawyer STILL hasn't called me back. Like I said, I live in a different state than my mother. If I contact a different elder care lawyer to help me with this, does that lawyer have to reside in the same state as my mother did? Or can I use a lawyer in MY state?? Again - many thanks for your intelligent and well thought out answers. I appreciate your help!! This is all new to me !
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Nina

I'm sorry for the loss of your mom. You'll be going through probate. As fregflyer mentioned, they'll want a value of the home, and any assets she had/has. You can get by without the appraisal, if you use the value of her home as listed on the county where she lived website. If your mom did not have any expenses, probate should go smoothly,if she did, unless you want to pay them out of your pocket, creditors will get a certain amount of time to file a claim. Once that time has passed, they will be barred from filing.

You'll also get dates. and deadlines, for inventory, and accounting. Probate ends with the last accounting.
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Nina, I would try that attorney one more time, and if he doesn't respond than go to another attorney who specializes in Elder Law. The attorney can do everything for you at an hourly rate, or you can volunteer do some of the foot work yourself.

I am dealing with my very first Probate, it's like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Chances are Probate will want to know the value of your Mom's house. You probably would need to hire a licensed Appraiser to give you that value, or maybe the Attorney has other suggestions. And Probate would want the value of whatever other assets your Mom had as of the date of her passing.

So much to do while still grieving. I know I have been dragging my feet on getting information over to my Dad's attorney. Whew, thank goodness my State gives me plenty of time to complete everything.
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Muniment of title -- it will become important to you, most likely. Anyone can probate the will. I believe it needs to be probated in the county where you mother lived. I am not sure about this. Having an attorney is helpful because they know which documents you'll need and how to gather the estate together if needed. A person new to these things may have a harder time understanding things like letters testimentary that the executor (personal representative) gets. It's usually really easy, but having someone to guide really helps. Do you have the death certificates yet? You'll need the original copy of the will and a death certificate to start the process. Don't worry. It's not difficult. I was surprised how easy it all was.
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This is ninabf61 again. TY for your quick and helpful answers, and for your kind words on my mother's passing. I am grateful that she was happy, active, and healthy until only about 5 or so weeks before her passing ... so, what you are all saying is, I need to get an elder law att'y involved, and have him do this "orderly probate process" and "monument of title" (all new words to ME, but I'm sure he'll know what I'm talking about) Question: Does it HAVE to be the SAME elder law att'y that actually set up my mother's will? I have called him three times and have left three msgs (two with his sec'y; one on his answering machine) and he has not ret'd my calls. Can I just get ANOTHER (different) elder law att'y to handle this? It's also a bit tricky bc I live 600 miles from my mother. I had moved back in with her , along with a 24/7 hospice nurse, the last three weeks of her life. TY all so much for your help!
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That should be muniment of title.
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nina, ff is correct. If the house is in her name and not part of a trust, the house would have to go through an orderly probate process before the title of the house could be changed to you. Until your name is on the deed you won't be able to sell it. You may be able to do a simple munument of title since it sounds like a simple transfer. Talk to the attorney who handled the will so he can get things moving in the best way.
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