First, we have to lay down some "ground rules" that will then "combine" to help understand the scenario and the question.Probate
When someone passes away, then their estate has to be distributed. The problem is that without probate - with assets such as titled property or bank accounts - this is hard to do. This is because you cannot switch over the assets without an order from the probate court, and simply a Certificate of Death will not do. A Certificate of Death simply states that someone has passed on, but does not give you the right to really do anything in the deceased's name.
So one files probate. Once probate is filed, the Executor of the estate gets something called a Letter of Testament/Administration
(hereinafter "Letter"). This Letter will allow the Executor to switch over the assets from the deceased individual to whoever will own the property. It is like a "Power of Attorney," but from the Court. Without that Letter, there is no way to transfer titled property and switch the assets into the hands of the beneficiaries and/or sell the titled property.Mortgage at Time of Passing
If someone owes a mortgage at time of passing, then typically, the lender has the mortgage "accelerated" at time of death. All becomes due immediately.
The estate can pay off the mortgage, or it can quickly sell the home, satisfy the debt, and keep any difference.Joint Tenancy v. Tenancy in Common
If her name is XXXXX XXXXX property, it gets a little more complicated. So let me know if it is. I will assume for now that it is not.What needs to be done to sell the house?
Probate needs to be filed and an Executor appointed. The executor may then sell the home with the LETTERS giving them the power to do so. All parties that may stand to benefit from the estate have to sign off on this - see here
for the parties that stand to inherit if there is no will. An attorney is recommended if possible. May I recommend the TN Bar referral programs - here
. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.
I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.
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