If a mother wills her house car to her daughter, can a lawyer ask her to sell them because there are credit card debt to be paid

I have a friend that is torn as to what to do as her mother wanted her to have
the mobile home and car and this was stated in the will but her present lawyer is
pushing the daughter to sell both. Can the lawyer force the daughter and
Executrix in the will to sell both.

Asked on September 15, 2017 under Estate Planning, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, a lawyer cannot force them to sell, though he can advise and *strongly* recommend. If there are credit card debts in excess of liquid assets (e.g. cash in the mother's bank account) to pay those debts, he is right, however, to push them to sell; legally, if the credit card company pursues (does not give up on or write off) the debt, the estate's assets cannot be legally distributed without paying off those debts, which may well require liquidating the assets. Since the debts have to be paid before any heirs can get anything, if the executrix tries to distribute the assets without paying the debts, the transactions can be reversed, a court can order the sale of the assets, and the executrix could even be held personally liable for expenes the credit card company incurred in taking legal action. 
The lawyer can also withdraw from representing the estate if the executrix refuses to take his/her legal advice.
The lawyer has been hired for a reason--his or her expertise: the executrix and daughter should listen to the lawyer. The mother may have wanted her daughter to have the mobile home and car, but the law does not let her get them while denying payment to her mother's creditors.

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