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Does she have the life estate or did she deed the life estate to someone else?
Here is the issue (and what I don't understand). If she gave a life estate to someone else, then she can't change her mind. If she retained a life estate for herself then she can give up the life estate and no longer exercise her option on it. I can't tell from your facts which one occurred.
That was the language I was looking for. That means she still owns the life estate and can give it up if she chooses.
In order to sell the house you will have to get a document drafted that gives up her life estate but it is better to talk to the real estate agent and find out from the title company which document they want her to sign to give up the life estate.
It isn't unusual for someone in your mother's situation to give up their life estate if they know they are never going to go home again.