Q: Father passed away 2/22/17 (predeceased by our mother who died in 2002). The only assets would be a 2012 Jeep Patriot with $5,000 still owed, and a home with an $18,000 mortgage balance in a depressed area. There was a $7,000 life insurance policy which went entirely to pay for funeral, with three children also paying about $1,000 each towards funeral. Basically, we already know there are more debts than assets, and are hoping to avoid having to pay estate fees, etc., but we are not sure if an attorney is necessary or what we are required to do. (McKeesport, PA)
A: You would need to open an estate if you want to transact his property-sell his house and transfer any other asset in his name. The question you are facing is, is it worth the time and expense to do this, given the fact that it looks at this point to be an insolvent estate? I would need to know more of the details to properly advise you. However, I have advised clients over the years to walk away from situations like this. The home will just go to Sheriff’s sale. There is a chance that the taxing bodies-school and borough especially, could sue for a deficiency judgment in the tax sale. Although it is rare, I have seen that happen. I would gather all your information-statements, bills, the deed, the mortgage documents and consult with a local attorney.