Can I evict my brother from a house we inherited?


Q. I am an executor of an estate that I’m trying to close. My brother is a beneficiary and has been living in the home prior to our parents passing in 2005. He agreed to pay the taxes if he was to continue living in the home. I asked him numerous times over the past 12 years to find another place but he hasn’t. Now he is defaulting on taxes and there are back taxes to pay. Can I evict him so I can sell the house and close the estate?
— Frustrated

A. This is a messy situation.

It’s going to depend on the details.

Assuming there is no specific language in the will of the parent whose estate you are the executor for that details what you may or may not do with the house, it is the executor’s right and responsibility to pay the debts, liquidate the assets and distribute them to the heirs, said Yale Hauptman, an estate planning attorney with Hauptman and Hauptman in Livingston.

He said if your brother won’t leave, you may have to evict him.

“It is not clear from your question whether there is a written agreement or not with regard to his living in the home and paying the expenses,” he said, noting you should speak to a landlord/tenant attorney to understand what rights he may have and how best to proceed.

“Any costs associated with eviction and paying the bills he refused to pay would be a cost of the estate and if you are successful in evicting him, you could seek reimbursement for legal costs and expenses from his share of the estate once the home is sold,” Hauptman said.

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This story was originally published on Aug. 24, 2020. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.