First of all, we need to discuss how probate
works, and then what to do is the beneficiaries cannot agree as to what to do.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 beneficiaries' hands.
The Executor files a special executor deed (sometimes called something similar) with the Clerk-Recorder of the county where the property is located (the LETTERS allow them to do so), taking the property out of the deceased's names and into the names of the beneficiaries, i.e. the sisters.Partition
Once this is done, then they are expected to work something out. If they cannot, any one of them or all of them can file a partition action
with the Superior Court. This partition action will explain that they cannot agree as to what is to be done with the property and as such, the Judge will decide as to what is most equitable, be it that some are bought out, or the property is ordered sold and the profits split, etc. This is at the discretion of the Judge.
I am afraid that the sister that has lived there all this time does not have any "special" claim to the property because it was not hers in title. Homestead applies to property that has been owned by her for some time, and also deals with creditors, but not title disputes. I am sorry.
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