Can my brother's friend sell his house if my brother passed away? 15 Answers as of February 17, 2012

My brother bought a house from his friend last April and my brother just passed away this September. His friend was fixing up the house and now that my brother is gone, he wants to sell it to get the money he used to fix it, but the money came from my brother. Can he do that? Or does the property go to my parents?

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THE HUBBARD LAW FIRM, P.C. | Donald B. Lawrence, Jr.
Your question does not provide enough information to provide a basis for a good answer. You indicate that your brother bought the house. Was it fully paid for or is there a balance owed to the seller? Whose name is on the title to the home? Can the origin of the fix-up funds be traced to your brother. You did not indicate how title to the house was held or if your brother had a will. These information will help to sort out the answers. You should find out the details and then consult a lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/8/2011
Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
The answer to your question would hinge upon the "title" to the property. If the property is titled in your brother's name, the friend is not able to sell because he cannot pass good title to a prospective buyer. The property would then need to be handled through your brother's estate. The friend could make a claim against the property for his labor and money he claims to have expended. His claim would be in the nature of a "Mechanic's Lien". If the property is titled in the friend's name, he would be able to pass good title to a prospective buyer. Your brother's estate would then want to make a claim against the property for money your brother put into the house.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 11/3/2011
Ashman Law Office
Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
Whom it goes to depends on his will, or if he was irresponsible and did not have a will, to his legal heirs. A friend is not a legal heir. Discuss this with your lawyer as you also may be an heir.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 11/3/2011
Law Office of Larry Webb
Law Office of Larry Webb | Larry Webb
Your brother's friend cannot sell the house. If there is going to be a probate, the friend will need to file a claim, which the executor can reject and force the friend to file a lawsuit to collect. If there is no probate the friend could open a probate as an interested party to collect what he is due, but the heirs would still be able to object.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/3/2011
The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A.
The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A. | Laurie E. Ohall
When someone purchases a house, they usually take title to the house, meaning the seller signs a deed which deeds the property to the buyer. Is the house in your brother's name? If so, then the friend cannot do anything with the house and he would have a claim against your brother's estate for any other money he was owed.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 11/3/2011
    Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law
    Martin Barnes - Attorney at Law | Martin Barnes
    You will want to consult with an attorney that you trust to help determine how the home was titled and whether or not your brother's friend has a legal interest in the property. An attorney can assist your parents in determining whether or not they have a legitimate claim on any portion of your brother's estate. If they do, an attorney can also advise your parents on asserting that claim so as to protect their rights and interests. The information in this email is privileged and confidential. It is intended only for certain recipients, as determined by the sender. Copying and distribution of this communication by parties other than those intended recipients is strictly prohibited, without prior consent. If you receive this email in error, please notify the sender immediately at (317) 804-5058 and thereafter delete the message and destroy any hard-copies that might have been produced or generated. Receipt by anyone other than the proper recipient is not a waiver of any applicable privilege or any other legal rights, including but not limited to trade secret and/or confidentiality. Additionally, mere receipt of this email does not, on its own, create an attorney client relationship and no such relationship should be inferred. IRS Circular 230 Notice: We are required to advise you that no person or entity may use any tax advice in this communication or any attachment to (i) avoid any penalty under federal tax law or (ii) promote, market or recommend any purchase or investment.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    Was the house only in your brother's name, or was it jointly owned, brother and friend, with right of survivorship? Did your brother leave a will? Come to think of it, you say your brother "bought a house from his friend:" was title ever really transferred? I would hire a lawyer and get to the bottom of this.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Law Office of J. Brian Thomas
    Law Office of J. Brian Thomas | J. Brian Thomas
    If your brother's friend does not own the house, he cannot sell it. Whether or not the friend has perfected a lien or other secured interest in some part of the house is a different story. Your brother's house passes to his beneficiaries (in the event he had a Will) or to his heirs (in the event that no Will exists.) In either case, it is very likely that some formal or informal probate procedure must be engaged in order to deal with the house as well as any debts that your brother might have owed when he died. You would be well-served to visit with a probate attorney in the city/county where your brother resided at his death.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC
    Bullivant Houser Bailey PC | Darin Christensen
    Depending on the work the friend did, when it was complete, any contract between your brother and the friend, and if the friend is a licensed contractor, he might be able to file a mechanic's lien and, if it is not satisfied, foreclose on the lien. If no mechanic's lien is filed, the friend does not have the ability to sell the house unless he is an owner or the beneficiary under your brother's will.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    DiOrio and Sereni LLP
    DiOrio and Sereni LLP | Robert M. DiOrio
    Thank you. Additional information is required to answer your inquiry,together with a review of any Will, the Deed, and any other relevant documentation. Issues such as a possible mechanic's lien, and estate considerations, must be explored.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Harville-Stein Law Offices, LLC
    Harville-Stein Law Offices, LLC | Dean D. Stein
    This question needs many more facts to be verified. If this house was "owned" by your brother, that is, he had a deed to it, then it is your brother's house and it goes to your brother's heirs. However, if there is some financing with a lien on the house, a seller's mortgage or otherwise, that lien could foreclose on the house, without regard to who the heirs are. The person who made the repairs generally will have a lien or can lien the property, for the value of the repairs. You simply need to have the entire matter review by an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    If the title to the house was transferred from the friend to the brother, then the friend has no claim to the house. He may have a claim against the estate, but he needs something that shows he had an agreement to make the repairs and the amount agreed to be paid for the work. If your brother died without a will then whoever is entitled to his estate is determined by the intestacy laws of the state where he lived.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/3/2011
    Broad Law Firm, LLC
    Broad Law Firm, LLC | Donald K. Broad
    There are a lot of unknown facts in your question that can potentially have an impact on the answer. For instance, if he last worked on the house in the last 90 days, your brother's friend could put a Mechanics Lien on the house that would get paid to him when the house sells. However, there are steps he has to take to perfect that lien. Regardless, if your brother's friend does not have title to the house (in Indiana a Deed), then he will not be able to sell it. As to who the money would go to, that would depend on if your brother had a will, whether he children or a spouse, etc. You should seek counsel of a probate attorney in your area.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 2/17/2012
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    This is a complex question. It depends upon the facts. Was there a contract, does he have a lien, how is the home titled, etc.? I suggest that your parents speak with an attorney about their options. They may need to initiate a probate to proceed.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 11/3/2011
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