You indeed have a mess on your hands. If the contract was paid off and your ex got the deed, but never recorded it, then it may not be as big a mess. You do not state whether or not he has an estate, whether a PR has been appointed, etc.
If an estate has been opened, the PR is the only person who can legally look into this.
If the land contract was paid off, but no deed was issued, then there will probably need to be TWO probate estates opened, one for the seller and one for your ex. The seller's interest is only a personal property interest, and if the balance was paid off, you *may* be able to get a Petition and Order for Assignment, but my guess is you would need to open two estates.
I would start by getting copies of the recorded information on the Land Contract paperwork and call anyone you can think of from the posting. The surviving spouse is obviously someone you should consider contacting, as she is likely to have possession of the property, and any other assets that he had. If the property is worth a great deal, you may be able to make a claim against his estate for the arrearages. If there is not much equity, however, the spouse is likely to be able to defeat your claims by using allowances and exemptions which have precedence over creditor claims.
Best of luck to you!
I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of 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 the subject area in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state.
Mr. Frederick has given you a good outline of some of the steps that you can take at this point. However, I think that you should confer with and then probably retain a probate lawyer to help with the untangling.
There are other issues which may be present. When did the child support accrue. There is a suggestion in your question that you were divorced from him in '92, so your child would be 20+. If no steps are taken to preserve child support payments within 10 years of the date they were originally to be paid, then they can no longer be collected. In other words, if your child is 20 today and there are arrearages from before the child was 10, those have become uncollectible. Thus, you may have an additional issue to resolve, this time requiring a divorce attorney.
I am licensed to practice law in Michigan and Virginia. My office is in Lapeer. You should not rely on this answer. You should consult a lawyer so you can tell the lawyer the entire situation and get legal advice that is precisely tailored to your case.
These are excellent answers. As another bit of self-help, I'd suggest checking with the county probate court to see if there was an estate opened for either of them, and if so, there should be at least a personal representative (PR) or maybe also an attorney you can contact who represented the estate.
I also think you're going to need a lawyer, though.
Thank you for submitting your question to avvo.com - where you can get answers to your legal questions from practicing attorneys in your state and across the country. The information contained in this response is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is created between you and I as a result of my answer to your question. You may wish to receive legal advice by hiring a competent attorney. Be careful to hire someone knowledgeable in the field pertaining to your question, and someone who is admitted to practice in the applicable state. For example, if your question concerns a Michigan estate or trust, a Michigan lawyer would be appropriate in most circumstances regardless of where you live.