Re: Selling a House with a Life Estate
first, the title of the property should not still be in your parents name. If it is, the life estate has not been legally created. Their should have been a deed written that conveys the property to you and siblings while reserving the life estate for brother. If this did not happen, you created a lot more work for yourselves.
then, you might have a problem with terminating his life estate without the courts intercession. Without reading the will and the deed that should have been created, I do not know if your terms are absolutely correct. Most life estates do not terminate if the tenant simply moves from the property. Even if this one does, does the fact you put the tenant in a state facility alter the dynamics of the situation? In other words, brother leaving the property was not of his own choice which might change how him moving out of the house is viewed. You did say that if Bill left the property, his tenancy would be terminated so, did Bill leave or was he removed? Beyond that, it generally requires a courts intercession to terminate a life estate. Since it appears the property was never properly deeded, the courts cannot enforce a non-existent deed.
Um, are you saying your mother's estate was never probated? If so, then yes. Her will cannot be enforced without it being presented to probate which means, if you try to skip probate, you have a lot more problems facing you.
Her death certificate and will was a matter of record at the courthouse and an ad was placed in the newpaper to make sure if she had any debtors to make claim against the property it was out there and it has been 10 years since her death so will the property have to go through probate now?
So, to start with: was probate ever opened for mom's estate? What about dad's? If not, then you have an additional layer of problems, depending on how title was held between mom and dad and if dad had a will.
I am not an attorney and any advice is not to be construed as legal advice. You might even want to ignore my advice. Actually, there are plenty of real attorneys that you might want to ignore as well.