Q: I am involved in a nasty situation. Simply put, I don’t trust my sister. We both are co-executors of my mother’s estate.

My mom died and the estate is now in probate. I live in one state and my mom lived in another. My sister sold my mother’s house four years before her death. I recently found out from the tax assessor’s web site that the sales price for my mother’s home was ridiculously low.

How can I find out if the assessor’s office information is accurate and how can I find out the true sales price for the home?

A. One simple way you may be able to find out the sale price for your mother’s home would be to contact a real estate agent in the city in which you mom’s house was located and see if they can look it up in their computer system.

In most cases, when a property is listed for sale through a real estate broker or salesperson, the sales information is entered into the multiple listing service (MLS) for future use. If the information is in the system, the real estate agent may provide it to you.

A second way to search for sale information is through the Internet. In some counties, the recording information, including the sale’s price, is online.

A third way to obtain the price of the sale for your mom’s home would be to contact the county recorder of deed’s office where the property was located and search the county records. Frequently, the sales price for a home is listed the county records office for public review.

You may find in your search that the information from the tax assessor’s web site was the assessed value for the home as determined by the assessor. The assessed value may not have been the same as the sales price paid for your mother’s home.

Frequently, the assessed value is much lower than the actual market value of a piece of property. While in some counties, the assessed value is based directly on sales prices in other counties, tax assessors use complicated formulas to determine a property’s value for tax purposes.

This formula may not reflect the actual value of the home and, in some cases, is just a small fraction of the actual sales price for a home.

Feb. 20, 2004.