Always order a title search. Metropolitan Title will gladly order the search for you ($75-$150, depending on jurisdiction) and an attorney will review the title search once it has been completed. A title search is invaluable in determining what, if any, liens are on the property. This will help determine the appropriate sales price and whether it is a traditional sale or a short sale. In addition, the title search will reveal the status of the estate, including how title is held, whether the estate has been or needs to be probated, if a will has been recorded, and if a list of heirs has been filed. If these steps have not been taken, early notice will provide the seller adequate opportunity to file any necessary paperwork or correct any issues.
Be sure that the person who signs the listing agreement and contract is the person with the power and authorization to sell the property. If you have any doubts, please consult with a real estate attorney. A title search will also assist in determining the correct seller for the property.
Obtain a copy of the death certificate for anyone on title who is now deceased.
If title was held either as tenants by the entirety with survivor ship or joint tenants with survivor ship AND the surviving tenant is the seller,all that is needed is a certified copy of the death certificate. In all other cases, there must be a probate if the deceased died testate (with a will) moralist of heirs if intestate (without). If the estate of the deceased was probated in another jurisdiction, an ancillary probate will need to be filed in the jurisdiction where the property is located.
In addition, a judgment search must be performed on all heirs as any judgments against the heirs will attach to the real estate of the person from whom they inherited the property.