Allowing sibling to inhabit house after parents passed away/legal issues...

17 Replies

Hi all...

Sadly, a friend has seen both of her parents pass away in the past year and change. They were older and it was not unexpected. They left a will with my friend as the executor of the estate.  There are three children and as you may have guessed, there are issues. 

The will is very clear which is good. (1/3 x 3 basically.) However, the sister is not compliant and has a very rogue attitude about this. She doesn't seem to understand that the house is essentially a legally protected area at this point. 

In any case, here's the issue. This sister (we'll call Kate) wants to live in the house with her kids and husband for a while. The executor (we'll call Andrea) has concerns about this. (As she should IMO.)  There is also a brother ("Bob") in the picture who is out of the city, fairly laid back and just happy to get his 1/3 when it's sorted out. 

I've advised my friend against allowing them to live in the house, as I fear they will become tenants and Andrea will have to literally evict them to get them out. Kate says they "just want to stay there for a few months."  But, it's a contentious situation at best. They hardly speak. Not only do I believe she will loot anything she can from there (which is a side issue)... but I do not believe they will leave until they feel like it. Thus, holding up any forward movement on the sale/distributions of equity. 

If the house was EMPTY, I wouldn't even know where to tell Andrea to start with all of this. But with a potential "naturalized tenant" of sorts, this seems like it could get messy. 

I have no experience in how these things are handled. Reaching out to those here who may have some ideas for this situation, advice on how to handle this... what to expect, etc. I'd love to know what YOU would do if you were her. (Having a better legal foundation of knowledge than I do on all of this.) 

Thanks in advance for any help. Sorry this was so long. 

I think the executor needs to say no, get authority to sell ASAP, and sell it.  The sister can use her 1/3 however she likes.

As @Wayne Brooks mentioned, the executor has the responsibility to say no. Many reasons why. But mostly, the estate could potentially incur financial liabilities by allowing that to happen (property taxes, unpaid utilities, physical damage), and in the process reduce the proceeds of the estate such that creditors that must be paid might get "shorted".  If the one sibling wsnts the house, then that sibling should buy if from the estate using a mortgage if necessary, so that the other siblings get their share without concerns of sharing liabilities without being compensated for doing so. 

Executrix should say no to the idea of anyone moving into the house.  Say no.  Say no.

Executrix should call a realtor and list the property for sale as soon as legally possible.

The net profits from the sale should be divided into equal thirds and distributed to the three siblings.

To attempt to do anything else with the house will lead to madness and unhappiness.  The executrix should not get involved with the sister about allowing the sister to purchase the house at a discounted price, at a long-term for sale by owner arrangement.  Any sale should be for near market value and conducted by a realtor.  The further away from the sale the executrix can remain, the better.

You wont ever get her out .  Plain and simple .   My best friend is a 1/3 owner of his grand parents estate , the property has been tied up with lawyers FOR 20 YEARS. Its like a feud , He inherited his fathers share , none of the 3 like each other . Property was listed for sale , my friend offered asking price , when they found out it was him the others wouldnt accept the contract .  Its a mess 

Very very interesting input, all. I agree but I really appreciate hearing the "whys" in this conversation. 

Anyone else with thoughts, please chime in and thank you.....!

Happened with my family... the relative stayed in the house rent free for 6 years. The house was in a beach town and she rented it out for $15k every summer and went on a road trip through the U.S. without giving the other siblings a penny. Nobody wants to go to the trouble of moving "for a few months". She can buy them out for fair market value or they should sell it.

@Joe Bertolino

Joe, she's already in the house. They came about 6 months ago after the husband lost his job and have been living there since. So, no move necessary.... but your point is totally understood.  In fact, the fact that they are already there and settled in makes this even more concerning IMO....

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If she is already in the house, that is the end of that. The only way she will leave is to evict her. Which will cause all sorts of stress. Andrea will not have any relationship with Kate because Kate dictates the terms of the relationship. It won't sell with Kate inside, because Kate won't allow it to be shown. Or she will but it will be a disaster.

This has all the makings of a 20-year feud just like @Matthew Paul said.

@Mindy Jensen

Mindy, loved your recent podcast appearance...

She IS for sure in the house already, but this is a very recent situation. Things are not settled and there is still some sense of "what should happen now" among everyone. This is why I'm asking the question now, hoping Andrea has some chance of using her position as leverage to keep it from getting complicated.  

There is other money to be distributed and Kate while not likely to be amicable... does want her share. So, I'm sharing this input (from this thread) with Andrea soon in hopes that she will understand the urgency of the situation and use that leverage to clear the house now while no one is 100% settled on what's going to happen. 

I believe Kate asked to stay in the house "for 3-6 months" as a get back on their feet kind of thing. But we all know how that goes. Seems to me she can take the liquid inheritance now.... and the equity from the home shortly if she gets out and help herself just fine. 

Again, really appreciate this input...

@Bryan Christopher , this is one of those situations that no one wants to be in, deal with or has a good end. Everyone who reads this forum knows Andrea will end up evicting her sister to get her out. It will be extremely ugly and it will affect her forever.

I hope Andrea has a good support system, and doesn't allow this to consume her life. It is, after all, only money.

But Andrea, if you read this, I am hurting for you, and the emotional toll this will take on you. 

As an Executrix she has the right to petition the Probate court to remove herself and have the court appoint a new executor or administer for the estate.  That way her emotional state will be protected and all decisions after that are up to someone else. Does the will state a second person can be the administer of the estate?


It seems to me that you have two options.  

1) Step up your game. Direct Mail to the house every 2 weeks. Also to the brother. And don't stop. 

2) Move on. 

Good Luck with That 

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@Tim FitzGerald

Hi Tim, no financial interest in the house at all on my end. No deals here, etc. This is a simple human interest thing. 

@Mindy Jensen

Mindy, thanks so much. I really appreciate your putting yourself in her position. I agree, it seems like an oncoming train-wreck and I will relay these thoughts to her to hopefully help avoid it. 

@Mike Sedlacek

Hi Mike, hoping it won't have to come to that and Andrea is in a financial position where she will need that equity herself at some point. Not sure how the will is laid out in that regard. But I will look into that as a potential future option if need be. 

Again... I really appreciate the input here....


  I didn't see if you're a realtor or not. As if that matters. But the idea of direct mailing to the house and the brother may still help to motivate them.   Especially if an offer at market value ismade. If the sister will not use legally remedies, the other siblings need to be motivated. Money is usually a good motivator.

  So Bryan, friend it shouldn't cost you much to send 2 post cards twice a month. You can even on the post cards mention 2 or 3 uninvolved, unbiased realtors. 

GO Forth and Help

If there was money left in an account for the kids, give her 1/3 of it to move out so that they can have an estate sale.  You will need to get rid of all the parents' stuff before the house can be sold.  Hire a reputable estate sale company to come in and handle it so there is again distance.  She will be more than on her feet in a few months with the estate sale money and the house money.

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