16 Jan My brother won’t leave inherited house. What can I do?
Q. I am the executor of an estate with six other beneficiaries. The majority of the beneficiaries want to sell the house. My brother lives there rent-free, and has no intention of selling and has locked us all out. Do I need a partition action or can I force a sale?
A. Your answer will depend on the specifics of the will, and what the will says about the home.
Are there any specific instructions about what can or cannot be done with the home?
Does it give your brother the right to live there for a period of time?
Must he pay expenses of the home while living there?
Does he or anyone else have a right of first refusal to purchase?
If the will says nothing, but rather the home is to be distributed along with the rest of the assets among the seven beneficiaries, and it gives you as executor complete discretion to sell the home, then you can take legal action if necessary, said Yale Hauptman, an estate planning attorney with Hauptman and Hauptman in Livingston.
“A partition action isn’t needed since the home is owned by the estate, not the beneficiaries,” Hauptman said. “I think you could possibly file an action to evict your brother if he refuses to leave.”
If he doesn’t allow you to show the home to prospective buyers, then a court order may be needed to direct him to allow entry, Hauptman said.
He recommends you speak to an estate administration and/or landlord-tenant attorney to make sure you take the correct steps to resolve this matter.
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