Why am I being sued regarding my late mother’s property?

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Why am I being sued regarding my late mother’s property?

My mother passed last year and had a condo that still has a mortgage. She did

not leave it to me in a Will nor is my name anywhere on the deed or mortgage. I

am not financially able to pay the mortgage and thus haven’t paid it. I was

served papers saying I was being sued in regards to this property. I don’t

understand why I’m being sued or what legal ties I have to it.

Asked on July 24, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you are not on the mortgage, you do not have to pay the mortgage and no one could successfully sue you personalyl for the money. If you are not the title (were not jointly on the title with your mother and did not inherit), you have have no responsibilities for the property (i.e. don't have to pay HOA fees, utilities, taxes, maintenance, etc.) and again, no one can successfully sue you personally for it.
Your mother's estate, or the money and assests she left behind, could, however, be sued for any debts she owed, so if you were going to inherit something, that money could be taken by a creditor--but only that money; you don't have to pay out anything of your own. They may be naming you in the suit not personally, but as the personal representative or executor of your mother's estate.
It is possible that they mistakenly believe you did inherit the condo, are now the owner, and so are responsible for certain of its debts or costs.
If they are trying to  foreclose (i.e. this is the bank suing), they may be naming you because as someone who might logically have inherited (if there was no will, as her child, you would likely inherit or at least be eligible to inherit--though you would have the right to turn the inheritance down), you would have the legal right to try to protect any interest you have or might get in the property, and so, under court, etc. rules, they have to provide you notice and a chance to intervene in the lawsuit if you want.
In short, there are several reasons why they could be naming you in a lawsuit, but you also have very little (if any) actual obligation if you were not on the mortgage and did not inherit or take ownership of the condo. But that said, under court rules, you still have to respond properly to the papers (the complaint); if you don't, then even if their claim is a bad one, you will lose by "default" (like forfeiting a ball game by not showing up to play). 
You should take the papers to a lawyer to review with you--the lawyer can advise you as to exactly why this lawsuit is happening, and take steps to defend you from it or get you dismissed from it.


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