I live in So. Calif. This property is in No. Calif. If after a real estate market analysis we find that the bills cannot be paid with the real estate proceeds, what next? Can we take household decor prior to a foreclosure or is this considered part of the estate as well? Is there anything I have to do with the court.
You will want to determine if your Mom died testate (with a will) or intestate (without a will). Household decor would generally be personal property and not a part of the real estate mortgage. In other words the bank that holds the mortgage would not have a security interest right to the personal property. You may want to consider a short sale of the property versus a foreclosure. A short sale would generally allow a moving allowance of the property (subject to the lender's consent). There are documents that you could file with the court that would give your rights of disposition pursuant to the Independent Administration of Estates Act.
I am sorry for the loss of your Mother.
This is a general answer only and you should seek the advice of counsel to address facts specific to your circumstances.
Estate Planning Attorney
If there is equity in the home above the mortgage a probate may get you at least the executors fees. These fees will have priority over the other liens.
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Wills and Living Wills Lawyer
Additional information is required before a comprehensive answer can be provided. Many mortgage companies are paying for individuals to maintain the home through foreclosure, or a better way would be through a short sale. I have been successful in obtaining administration fees from the financial institution.
As to the personal effects and household goods, I would definitely remove them from the house.
Additional information is required before an answer can be provided as to whether court involvement is required.
No legal representation exists by virtue of this answer. It is recommended that you contact an attorney directly for a more complete response.