Q: How long does it takes to open an estate and much does it cost?
My ex husband is still half owner of my condo but he's been dead over 7 years ago and we're divorced 10 years ago. I was about to sell my condo but there is a liens that attached to the property that I'm not aware. It's not my liens but for my ex husband. please advice
A: I'm assuming that you held the property with your ex as tenants in common, so that his heirs are entitled to half of the house after payment of his liens. I'm further assuming that you are not a beneficiary of his Will. Administration could get quite complicated and difficult to predict, especially if you cannot locate his lawful heirs. The good news is that the legal fees will be paid from his estate, namely his half of the house, and the fees in Maryland are generally limited to a bit over 3% provided there is no litigation or other efforts beyond administration. Sale of the property often increases that, but it is paid from his half. The bad news is that if his estate is not large enough to support a fee that covers the level of effort, it may be difficult to find a lawyer willing to accept the case and pursue it diligently. The good news is that, once the heirs are located and agree to the petition for probate, you don't have to wait for the probate claims period to close before selling the condo. Further, if you cannot locate an heir, such as a child you had together or one of your former in-laws, you might be able to file the estate as a creditor. Ending on the bad news, you won't be able to distribute his share until the claims period has passed and the accountings are done, and that can often be over a year.
A: It only takes a few days to open an estate assuming no one contests the Personal Representative who files to open the estate. The law gives an order of Priority for people to serve as Personal Representative and if other people have higher priority (for example, children) it may be wise to get their consent or ask one of them to serve.
While it may take awhile for an estate to resolve (6 months at a minimum) a Personal Representative does not need to wait to sell property if they are selling it for market value. They may need to hold sale proceeds in an estate account and wait to disburse to heirs though. As another attorney alluded to, there are costs associated with probate. The Personal Representative may need to post bond, publish in the newspaper, etc.
How liens of a deceased person impact the sale of property they jointly owned will depend on the type of liens. Generally speaking any liens against a house must be paid at or before settlement.
While not legal advice, I hope that this general information helps. You're encouraged to sit down with an attorney to go over how to handle the particular estate you need to deal with.
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