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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.


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