My Iowa mother died without a signed Will. She and my father jointly own a farm with a mortgage.

The farm is titled as Tenants in Common, not Joint Tenancy. The car is titled in her name.Do we need to go through probate, and if we do can we do it without a lawyer? Also, does the bank have a right make us sell the farm to pay the mortgage, because debts must be paid from an estate? We can continue to make the mortgage payments (somebody else farms the land and pays rent).

Asked on June 6, 2009 under Estate Planning, Iowa


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Usually, with tenants in common, this what happens:

M = mom

D = dad

Mom and Dad are tenants in common, which means they each own the portion they own -- let's say in this instance it is 50/50.  It could be a different ratio, too.

So, Mom dies, her mom goes through intestate -- which in many states means it goes to her surviving spouse in whole or a portion to her spouse and a portion to her surviving children. Usually, anything outside of a trust goes through probate (even a will). In terms of a car, it goes through intestate as I mentioned above. You are best to do this through a lawyer.

Try and then check his or he record at the Iowa State Bar.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.