UGH... and so it begins...
Well, wouldn't you know right on the heels of (and overlapping with) my grieving for my deceased Dad, I gotta now be worried about possible hinky goings-on regarding the "interpretation" of my Dad's will. I know none of you all are attorneys (at least not to my knowledge), and I won't hold you to anything you say like it was gospel-legal-truth, but I am interested in what your gut feelings, opinions and/or experiences would be on this:
In a nutshell, SM fully inherited the house (which is fine by me, always has been, and in fact was at my urging) but wants the remaining $107,000 mortgage on it to be paid off by the residual estate (not fine with me, and it's no surprise b/c she has always wanted it free and clear). And since the residual estate consists of my Dad's extensive antique collection (that was his business) and since net proceeds from sale of such are to be split 60% to me and 40% to her--- what that basically means is that the luxury of her having a free-and-clear house is to be paid for 60% by me, to the tune of approx. $65,000 and approximately one-third of the total amount I personally would otherwise be expected to net from these antique sales.
She inherited all the cash, socal security, life insurance, accounts, 40% of antique sale proceeds (plus 100% proceeds from several that happened before his death), she has aways had a full-time job and has hardly ever chipped in with household bills (or tasks) except for the rare times my Dad asked her to help (which he had to ask several times, btw, before she did it). I am also aware that before his death she consolidated her $10,000+ in credit card debt under HIS credit card, which will also be paid for out of the estate. All that's done and can't be changed and I'm not concerning myself with it. But my main point here is: she AIN'T HURTIN' and she is certainly more than capable of continuing the mortgage payments herself.
I've done a bit of online research and everything I've read so far (including the state's official Probate Code and various documented court verdicts in that state) would indicate that NO, the estate does not have to pay for one beneficiary out of several to have their ASSET further bolstered by other beneficiaries who themselves will get no benefit from said asset.
Where I think the confusion lies is in the standard directive in most wills to pay off "all debts" before anything else gets done/distributed. It's a question of what is meant by "ALL debts", and it is vague. This item I looked at on the state's Probate Code, though, is very clear (the will has not, however, been submitted to probate yet). Furthermore, it is my understanding from what I've read that UNLESS the will *specifically* says that the mortgage has to be paid off by estate, that the law generally does not assume that is the intention.
Still, I am curious as to what commonly is done or considered appropriate in this situation, which I imagine is pretty darn commonplace (after all, many people with mortgages die still own some on them; most peoples' residual estates would be pretty well chewed up if they paid these off in full). I sorta got the impression that this sort of thing might be attempted ---and go through--- unless or until an objection is raised citing the relevant Probate Code item challenging it. Thoughts?