Can a creditor force my mother to sell ger house after the death of her husband ?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can a creditor force my mother to sell ger house after the death of her husband ?

My father passed away and had
credit cards in his name only.
My mom is the
only heir to his property and
belongings. Minimal savings
account of approx 2000 and the
ownership of their home. Can
his creditors force her to sell
the house to payoff his old
debt ‘from the estate’ ?

Asked on September 19, 2017 under Estate Planning, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If the home was owned by them as joint tenants with right of survivorship (or was solely in her name), they cannot force her to sell: in either event, the home either already was or automatically on your father's death (without going through probate) became her home only, and she cannot be required to sell her home for what was his sole debt. If the home was in his name so that she needs to inherit it, it is part of his estate--it's not hers until after probate. In that case, the creditor could potentially put a lien on it if they file  a claim against the estate, which lien could result in her having to sell it. However, the above assumes that even if the home had been his only, that there is no mortgage: if there is, as long as the mortgage is paid so the lender does not foreclose, a sale of the home cannot be forced because the mortgagee has first call on it; a lien can still be placed on the home, which lien would have to be paid off before the home is ever sold, but a sale cannot be forced.
The creditor could reach the $2,000 saving account to pay the credit card debt.

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.

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