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If taxes were unpaid and the house was sold at a tax sale (at least in Michigan), the county would have acquired the property for delinquent back taxes.
If a mortgage was defaulted and foreclosed on, the lender would have acquired the property.
I'm thinking there was a state MERP recovery from the estate of the deceased.
More information is in fact needed. But so often posters don't return so we may never know. Anyway, it was an interesting question.
#1 -- see if you can locate the property at your tax assessor's web site. It may well list the owner there.
#2 -- contact an attorney to assist.
Is this what family is telling you ....or neighbors....or your best guess?
Why was is "turned over to the state"?
The reasons will make a difference. How to approach buying property sold at tax sale will be different than that seized by IRS or that with a medicaid MERP claim or those with a MERP lein. Property left by person who died intestate will be done differently than for one who left a will and can do probate.
IMHO you need more baseline info to start on all this.
It would help if you have the property ID, known as the Sidwell, but you generally can get information with the street address.
Sometimes a Tract Index Department has some responsibility for real estate issues, so you might end up speaking with someone in a similarly named department.
There's also the possibility that the city or township treasurer for the area has information on who is responsible for the taxes, which they can give to you.