If you are the sole heir of the estate, then you are entitled to any proceeds from the estate.
But it is important to understand how the probate process works.
When a person dies without a will and leaves assets (money/property/etc) the laws of the state where they lived determines who the "heirs" are (the persons who will inherit from the estate). Under FL law, if a person has no spouse, no living parents and no living children or grandchildren, the next step out would be nieces and nephews. Sounds like that is you.
So what you describe, it sounds like you are an heir.
So if there are assets in the estate? You are entitled to them.
But this leads to the next step in this process...how the estate is determined
The probate process involves determining all the assets of the estate as well as the liabilities of the estate. The liabilities of the estate are then paid, and the remaining assets are distributed to the heirs of the estate.
You are entitled to any proceeds of the estate (after debts are paid).
So, if the place is worth $20K? And the liabilities of the estate are $13K? Then in theory you would be entitled to the difference...that is, if the home sells for $20K, they use $13K to pay the bills and you get the remaining money.
The probate lawyer for the homeowners association says I have to pay him 3000 dollars and wait 6 months!?
That MAY be true. That is, it is appropriate for a probate lawyer to charge his or her fees. $3K for probate of an estate sounds typical.
And 6 months to probate? That also sounds reasonable. 3-9 months is typical for a probate...but they can take longer.
The question I would have is, what is the $3K for? Is it to pay for the lawyers fees? And you get the home (after you pay off the remaining debt (the $13K in liens))? Then that sounds reasonable. In fact, that is what I would expect to happen. You are going to need to pay the liens before you can take clear title to the property.
OR you can do nothing. The probate lawyer will sell the property at auction, will pay the liens, take his fee, and mail you a check for any balance remaining.
If you do not believe this lawyer is being honest, the best thing you can do from NY is hire an attorney in FL (one from the same county where the condo is located) and have them file a motion with the court to determine status of the probate. You can find an attorney hereLink text