Deceased mother left home I co-own with her and she left credit card debt

by Lee
(Atlanta, GA)


My mother passed away in South Carolina and she had considerable credit card debt. I have 2 siblings and she left a will stating she wants her estate divided among us equally. However, years ago, she put my name on the deed to the home she owned. My questions are: a) do I get half of the house (or, despite the fact that I am co-owner, does the equity get divided equally? and; b) how do the credit cards get paid?

Thank you,

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Aug 20, 2012
Deceased mother left home I co-own with her and she left credit card debt

Sorry about the death of your mother. I know that you are dealing with a lot right now.

The executor of your mother's will (the executor is indicated in the will) must file that document with the probate court in the area where your mother lived to begin the probate process. Once that's been done, the executor will inventory all of your mother's assets and notify your mother's creditors so they can file claims against her estate (her assets) in order to get their debts paid.

If there is not sufficient cash in your mother's estate to pay all of her debts, the executor will have to sell some of her assets to raise the cash needed to pay what your mother owes as well as any estate and probate-related fees and taxes she may owe as well. Note: Unless you or any of your siblings owe joint debt with your mother or co-signed for any of her outstanding debt, none of you are responsible for paying any of the debt that cannot be paid if your mother died with more debt than the value of her assets.

If there are any assets remaining in your mother's estate after all fees, taxes and debts have been paid, then the executor will distribute them to your mother's beneficiaries according to the terms of her will.

As for your question about your mother's home and the fact that your name is on the deed, the answer is that it depends on how the two of you owned the home together. If you owned it as "joint tenants with the right of survivorship," then you now own 100% of the house. However, if you owned it as "joint tenants," then her share of the home is a part of her estate.

I recommend that you the executor of your mother's will meet with an estate planning or probate law attorney to clarify how the home is owned, to sort out any issues related to it and to get help with the probate process.

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