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socrateaser, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 38882
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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This a estate law question for any Florida probate lawyer.

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This a estate law question for any Florida probate lawyer. . My sister-in-law passed away four months ago in florida, with no will, or any beneficiaries. My husband is her only living blood relative excluding our minor children. She never married or had children. She was a "horder", and her home is totally trashed including a hole in the roof and rain damage. The house is located in the historic district of Ocala. Her assets: a 198K life insurance policy, a Toyota truck, worth $ 7K. She owes $42,000 mortgage. She owes $7,000 in credit card and medical bills. We paid her funeral costs. The city is sending notices to clean up the exterior of the house or they will clean it and add fines. The mortgage company is beginning to start forclosure proceedings. Is it in our best interest to probate her estate? We want the truck and whatever is left of insurance when her bills are paid. 'Order of precidence' on the insurance policy lists "sibling next of kin" to be paid after the estate. My husband says we should pay the $42,000 mortgage before the house undergoes forclosure because the mortgage company is going to be getting their 42K. from the estate funds, no matter what we do. So it is better to pay immediately and own the house rather than to wait until after forclosure and probate and not own the house. He says we could get at least 7K for the house and lots. I think it is a sink hole for money and totally yuck. My husband says that we must file for probate because the estate is > $75,000.
Do we file for probate? Do we immediately pay the mortgage to prevent foreclosure? ...Since she was a hoarder, would it be in our best interests to let the mortgage company foreclose on the house and just have them settle for the $42,000? out of the 198K life insurance proceeds?
Thanks for your question.I am not a Florida lawyer but am familiar with Florida law if you would permit me to help you.please let me know if that would be ok I will be glad to respond..
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

sorry we are looking for a florida lawyer . thank-you for responding

Then I will opt out here, no need to reply..


Is there a named beneficiary for the life insurance policy (other than the estate of the decedent)?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

there is no beneficiary named at all. my husband is not even named. it was a job benefit with the post office and they did not insist on a named beneficiary. he is her only living relative except our minor children.

Thanks for the update.

1. Get a Broker Price Opinion of the realistic sale price of the home.
2. Have a reputable contractor provide a quote to bring the property up to for-sale condition.
3. If #1 is greater than #2, then commence probate, bring the mortgage current, sell the home, probate the estate, and distribute the proceeds to the beneficiaries.
4. If #2 is greater than #1, and that difference in amount, plus all of the other debts owed by the decedent, plus about $20,000 (for legal expenses associated with probate), is less than $198,000, then probate the estate.
5. Otherwise, contact a probate lawyer, and discuss having all of the beneficiaries file disclaimers with the court, so as to completely relinquish all rights (and liabilities) in the estate, and move on with your life.

Based upon what you've described, I think that a probate is probably in the cards here, and bringing the mortgage current so as to avoid a foreclosure may or may not be realistic, given that the property is a mess. The problem with not bringing the mortgage current and fixing the property, is that the government will start assessing heavy fines against the estate, and it could even decide to condemn the property, and knock it down -- sending the estate the bill. So, it makes a lot of sense to find out how much will be required to get the property in shape for sale -- or to make a rental out of it. Otherwise, you may be mired in government actions that you don't want. Code violations are criminal prosecutions (though people are rarely jailed for the violations -- just fined). Regardless, they can be a genuine problem for everyone involved.

Hope this helps.
socrateaser, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 38882
Experience: Retired (mostly)
socrateaser and 3 other Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thank-you for your time and effort and you might be right. but my husband is very specific about a florida probate lawyer answering this question. please throw the question out in the public forum again.

The website only requires that contributors verify a license in one U.S. jurisdiction. The fact that I do not display a Florida license does not mean that I am not licensed in Florida. However, as I value my anonymity, I must respectfully XXXXX XXXXX provide any additional credentials or information about myself.

So, if this is insufficient for your purposes, then please opt me out, or relist the question, if you don't think my answer is valuable enough to deserve compensation.

Thanks in advance.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

throw the question out to public forum one more time. if we decide that you were the best answer for the money . how would we come back to compesate you. Sorry you cannot identify yourself as a florida lawyer but i understand privacy issues.

Unfortunately, the website prohibits me from discussing transactional issues. I will ask customer service to contact you. Maybe they can figure something out. Please don't reply to this answer (unless you decide to rate me positively). It will just slow down the process.

Thanks for your understanding.

Note: if you have other specific questions on your original question, feel free to ask me. Maybe I can convince you that I know what I'm talking about.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

no questions ,please put the question back into the forum.

Did customer service contact you?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

no ,not yet

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

okCustomertime is getting late and my husband wants an answer and your answer seems well informed. is there any way to probate the estate but not be responsible for the house?

okCustomertime is getting late and my husband wants an answer and your answer seems well informed.

is there any way to probate the estate but not be responsible for the house?

A: You could offer the lender a deed in lieu of foreclosure. The lender must also give a release of further liability for any deficiency balance on the mortgage, otherwise, the lender would still have a claim against the estate. If the lender agrees, then the property will be removed from the estate, and the estate will have no further responsibility. However, if the lender inspects the property and determines that it is worth less than the loan value -- and also realizes that the estate is solvent, then it will demand payment or it will sue for foreclosure and then claim against the estate for the deficiency.


The least pleasant option is foreclosure, because Florida foreclosures are expensive. The lender will lump all those costs into the claim against the estate, and it could add $25,000 to the loan payoff.


Which is why I believe that (assuming you use the proceeds from the life insurance) the most cost effective move is to repair the property, and either sell it or rent it, while bringing the mortgage current. The only reason to not do this is that the costs, plus all of the other debts, exceed the value of the life insurance. That would be the only reason why everyone would disclaim their interests in the estate and just walk away.


Hope this helps.

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