I live in Florida with my wife; she has a brother and sister who both live in Georgia. We have some questions about the estate of their father who used to live in Pennsylvania but passed away just before Christmas.
Their father had a will in which he stated that the 3 siblings would inherit all his belongings, including the house that he lived in. He had also named one of his brothers as the executor of the estate, but that uncle recently asked my wife's brother to handle the role as he did not want to do it.
The siblings do not have any issues (fighting or such) about dividing the property, but have a concern about the out of pocket expenses. Two issues related to this are:
- The house has a small mortgage (less than $50K total, about $500/month) that presumably still needs to be paid, together with any property taxes and any expenses related to the maintenance (city water bill, electricity, etc).
- They have not found any evidence that their dad had any life insurance, although some of the evidence related to this may have been removed by a relative (my wife's aunt) who, according to some information from another relative, may had taken a file cabinet out of the estate without permission. The missing paperwork is also the reason why they do not yet know for example how many payments are left on the mortgage.
Their father did however have a CD in a bank (worth approx. $15K) and some investment account (worth approx. $10K). Some of the funds from these will go to paying the funeral house.
It is likely that the siblings will eventually want to sell the house as none of them are interested or able to move to Philadelphia (or able to manage the property from Georgia).
Also the will stipulated that the house cannot be sold as long as one of my wife's aunts (not the same one who supposedly took the file cabinet) is alive. The reason for this is that my wife's father wanted this aunt to have a place to live in, if she needs to. This aunt mentioned in the will may be around for years to come.
On another hand my wife and her siblings are likely not able to keep making extended payments on the mortgage or the property taxes. And even though no one is currently living in the house, they probably should leave things like electricity on so as to keep the house looking occupied (to avoid it being taken over by squatters).
Presumably though the siblings will at least not be liable for estate or inheritance taxes, being that they all live either in Florida or Georgia and the total value of the estate may end up being less than $150K.
The question I wanted to ask about this situation is:
Is there anything my wife and her siblings can do to minimize their out of the pocket running expenses (mortgage payment, taxes, electricity, gas, etc) on the property?
[Update] Thank you all for your answers and comments. I removed the second question "What could be done to find out if their father had a life insurance?" as it is actually answered in this other question.