You don't clearly state who owns the home or who is on the deed. If the one sister is a surviving joint tenant (joint tenant with right of survivorship) then the home is already owned by her and is not controlled by any will or by the law that controls what happens to property when someone dies (the law of intestacy). In other words a deed with survivorship language supercedes the will. In that case, the sister who owns the home will have to refinance because she owns the home and is the surviving person on the mortgage note.
If the home was owned by your mother and sister as "tenants in common" then half the property will pass according to your mother's will/the law of intestacy.
If no one has been named as representative of mom's estate (either as executor under a will or administrator if no will) then no one really has the right to do anything with her property. In practical terms however when dealing with personal property in a home being occupied by a family member you obvoiusly have a mess on your hands. Any child can step forward to administer the estate (if no will) and if there is a will the will has to be produced so the executor can be named.
This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website: http://www.stevenzelinger.com/
I agree with Attorney Zelinger. In light of your additional information, I believe that you need to push to open a probate estate. The home and belongings must be probated in order to determine who has the right to what. It would appear that your sister has a 66.3% interest in the property. You and your remaining sister would each have a 16.3% interest, plus the share of the personal items.
Nothing will change here until you have a probate estate open. An attorney is needed to property advise you how you need to proceed, especially in light of the fact that none of the three heirs are likely to agree on these matters.
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The only way of knowing who owns the house is to look at the deed. If your mother and your sister jointly owned the house with a right of survivorship, title passed to your sister automatically at death. The only way to challenge that deed would be to show that the property was deeded to your sister as a result of fraud, mistake or undue influence. Otherwise, if the property was owned as tenants in common, then one-half of the property is part of your mother's probate estate. Your mother's personal property is probably part of the probate estate.
I suggest you get a copy of the deed from the Registry of Deeds (which may be on the web site if the deed was recently done) and your mother's death certificate and bring everything to a probate attorney for consultation.
E. Alexandra "Sasha" Golden is a Massachusetts lawyer. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.
The facts are insufficient to give you any meaningful advice. You need to meet with a lawyer SAP. If your sister was on the deed with your mother, the property will be presumed to belong to your sister, depending on what kind of legal title in which the property was held. If there was no will, you are entitled to a share of the non-real estate assets. Hire a lawyer!! Good luck.
This answer does not consitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The answer is based only on the facts presented. This answer is basd only on Massachusetts law.
I am sorry for your loss. Your subsequent information tells me that 50% of the homes value, minus 50% of the mortgage, may be part of your mother's probate estate, in addition to all of her personal property.
Since you state that no Will exists, any of you and your sisters can petition the Court for authority as personal representative. It would be best to contact an attorney who specializes in probate. Good luck.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and have an office in Reading.. My practice is focused in the areas of elder law, estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state.