Q: My mother died and I need to sell her house - does probate have to be finished before I can do this?
A: Probate does not have to be finished in order to sell property of the deceased. However, the seller must have authority; this person is usually the personal representative/executor. The personal representative distributes property and pays off debt. If there is a debt on the house, like a mortgage, it must be satisfied either before the sale, or during the sale from the proceeds. You must also look at the will, if any, to see what authority the executor has to sell property. If there is no will, then the statutes take over. I suggest you retain a lawyer, if you are the personal representative, or if not, then you may need a lawyer to ensure that the proceeds from any sale are distributed correctly. Usually lawyers are useful in any probate that is the least bit complex.
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