Do we need to open an estate?

Q: Mother’s husband died and no will was found after 2 weeks. How do I assist with no money assets? They have a house with reverse mortgage, title held in his and her name along with car. No other liquid assets. What steps do I take? By state law, they apparently have a small estate, is mom a successor if jointly held asset in both names? (South Park, PA) A: You cannot petition the court for a small estate if there is real estate. Plus, if your mother is on the deed with her husband as husband and wife, the property passes to her by operation of law (entireties) and is not part of his estate. Additionally, my question is whether there is, or will ultimately be, any equity remaining in this house if there is a valid reverse mortgage on the house. I suggest reviewing the estate assets and the reverse mortgage document, with an attorney to determine if there is any reason to open and estate and if there are any inheritance tax issues. More information is needed. Normally, the heirs can change title to a car without opening an estate. In these situations, the heirs take the title, the death certificate, a copy of the will and any other documents necessary, to a motor vehicle transfer agent such as AAA.

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