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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 102145
Experience:  Fully licensed attorney in Texas in private practice.
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My father-in-law passed away. His house was as a single man

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My father-in-law passed away. His house was as a single man with only his name. His wife wants to sell the house. She lives in the house and none of his grown children do. What needs to be done to sell the house? He has no estate and was deeply in debt.
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I m very sorry for your family's loss. Can you please tell me:

1) Did he own the home free and clear or was there a mortgage?
2) Did he have a will?
3) Does anyone in the family dispute the home being sold?
4) Is her name on the deed of the home?
5) If her name is XXXXX XXXXX deed of the home, do you know if it was tenancy in common or joint tenants?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
He still owes a mortgage. We have not found a will. Most family members are fine with selling the home. 1 may not but he can't afford to make the payment and the rest of us will let it go into foreclosure. His wife is not on the deed. It was filed as a single man. He did express that he wanted his wife taken care of to 1 of his sons
Thank you, D. Apologies in advance for the momentary wait as I am writing out the answer now...

First, we have to lay down some "ground rules" that will then "combine" to help understand the scenario and the question.

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 hands of the beneficiaries and/or sell the titled property.

Mortgage at Time of Passing
If someone owes a mortgage at time of passing, then typically, the lender has the mortgage "accelerated" at time of death. All becomes due immediately.

The estate can pay off the mortgage, or it can quickly sell the home, satisfy the debt, and keep any difference.

Joint Tenancy v. Tenancy in Common
If her name is XXXXX XXXXX property, it gets a little more complicated. So let me know if it is. I will assume for now that it is not.

What needs to be done to sell the house?

Probate needs to be filed and an Executor appointed. The executor may then sell the home with the LETTERS giving them the power to do so. All parties that may stand to benefit from the estate have to sign off on this - see here for the parties that stand to inherit if there is no will. An attorney is recommended if possible. May I recommend the TN Bar referral programs - here. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.

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