01 Apr Handling ownership of an inherited house
Q. My mother died and left the house to her five children. How long do we have before we have to sell it or change the deed? Our youngest sibling wants to live there for awhile before we sell it.
A. We’re sorry to hear about your mother.
You didn’t say who the executor was, but it’s time for this person to step up.
The executor is charged with gathering the assets together, paying the debts and taxes – if any – and then distributing the assets in accordance with your mother’s wishes as set forth in her will, said Yale Hauptman, an estate planning attorney with Hauptman and Hauptman in Livingston.
We’re going to assume the home was in your mom’s name alone, which makes it a probate asset that’s passed according to the will. We’re also presuming that the will says under the residuary clause that everything that left is to be distributed equally among the five children, and gives the executor discretion to liquidate and then make the distributions. If there is a specific provision in the will covering the home, that may further guide the executor, he said.
“There is no specific timeline with regard to when the property must be transferred but the executor must act prudently and in a reasonably timely manner,” Hauptman said.
By your question, it looks like you will sell the home.
“The executor is responsible for finding a buyer and doing all that is necessary to get the best price possible,” he said. “It is also the executor’s responsibility to pay the bills associated with the home until a buyer is found.”
If your sibling is living there, care should be taken that she does not refuse to leave when it comes time to sell, Hauptman said.
“Landlord-tenant laws that protect a tenant could create a problem so the executor may want to consider speaking with an attorney familiar with those laws to determine what steps are necessary to protect against your sister refusing to leave,” he said.
Email your questions to moc.p1566174204leHye1566174204noMJN1566174204@ksA1566174204.
This story was originally published in April 2019.
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