Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.
I am sorry to hear of your father's passing... Did you have a specific legal question I can help with this morning?
Have you actually seen a copy of any will?
Has the girlfriend actually filed a probate case in the local probate court where father lived?
Do you know if parents were listed as "joint tenants" on the deed to the property? (it would actually say this on the deed)
Ok, if you haven't gotten a copy of the will, then you can contact the probate court and request a copy of the probate file as it is a public document once it is filed for probate. That way you can get a copy of the will. Or you can contact the executor directly and request a copy to see if they would provide it. They don't have to, if you aren't listed as a beneficiary, but it can't hurt to request one in writing sent certified mail to the executor.
As for the deed, this is going to depend on how the deed reads because if it is silent, then there is a presumption that spouses hold it as "tenants by the entirety" which means that when one passes, the other becomes the sole owner instantly.
But when the spouses divorce, that tenancy is destroyed and becomes a "tenancy in common" meaning that they both own 50% of the house and it passes down to their heirs.
So if mother is still on the original deed, and any divorce decree doesn't dispose of the house some other way, then she would now be a 50% owner along with whoever father left his 50% to.
That means the nothing was done at all with the house....so mother owns 50% of it right now..
Is mother still living near him? If so, then it would be a good idea for her to reach out to the executor and give them her contact information. Nothing can be done with the house...like selling.. because mother owns half. So the executor can't do anything except transfer father's half from the estate to whoever inherited it. Then the new owner or mother may decide that they want to sell and cash out their interests.
If one party wants to sell and the other doesn't then either party can ask the judge to order a sale of it so that the money can be split.
So mother might want to talk to a local attorney where father lived to have him intervene and look out for her interests..
Ok, if you are local then you could contact an attorney on her behalf, but since she is the one with a legal interest here, she will have to be the one who communicates directly with the attorney.
But the estate will be administered through the Orphan's Court, not the Register of Wills. The Register just holds wills as a courtesy for residents until they are probated through the court..
You are very welcome. Happy to help any time.
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