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Can an executor of an estate have the water shut off if someone is living there and paying the mortgage?

Portland, OR |

My brother lived with my father before he passed and is still in the home. My sister, the executor of the will, had the water shut off. My brother has two Veterans as roommates and has been paying the mortgage and the utilities.

Attorney Answers 4

  1. A person appointed by the court as the personal representative of an estate has the same authority that a property owner would have in dealing with the property in the estate. The bottom line is if a regular property owner does not have the authority to do something, then the personal representative does not have the authority to do that either. If a regular property owner has to use a particular legal procedure to deal with a problem, then the personal representative does, too. The personal representative in your situation needs to talk to an attorney familiar with Oregon FED and ejectment law in order to make sure that whatever needs to be done is done properly.

  2. You have not stated whether or not the "exector" has been appointed by the court. If not, he/she has no authority. If he/she has been appointed, I agree with the previous attorney.

    Be sure to designate "best answer." If you live in Oregon, you may call me for more detailed advice, 503-650-9662. Please be aware that each answer on this website is based upon the facts, or lack thereof, provided in the question. To be sure you get complete and comprehensive answers, based upon the totality of your situation, contact a local attorney who specializes in the area of law that involves your legal problem. Diane L. Gruber has been practicing law in Oregon for 26 years, specializing in family law, bankruptcy, estate planning and probate. Note: Diane L. Gruber does not represent you until a written fee agreement has been signed by you and Diane L. Gruber, and the fee listed in the agreement has been paid.

  3. Mr. Hutterli is right - the executor of the estate just temporarily takes on some of the duties and rights that your father had.

    I think the question here may be whether your brother and his roommates qualify as "tenants" under the Oregon Landlord Tenant Act. If they do, then this executor has broken the law by shutting off their water. Your brother and his roommates should hire a landlord-tenant lawyer to help them figure out their rights.

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  4. I agree with my colleagues - the executor needs to be court appointed before they have power to direct the affairs of the estate. People living in the house that were there with the decedent's permission probably at the very least have the right of a month to month tenant that they have to be formally evicted. Utilities such as water or electricity usually need to be put in the name of the tenant so the tenant is responsible. Not sure what the rules would be in this situation which but since the occupants are paying the mortgage and utilities I don't see why there is a need to shut the water off unless it is an improper attempt to evict the current tenants. Best to get an attorney involved and get this mess straightened out properly. Also it would probably be a good idea to check and see what the last recorded deed for the house says. If there is a deed that has your brother on it with your father with the right of survivorship, it may be that your brother now owns the house.

    The comments by this author to questions posted on Avvo are designed to foster a general understanding of what might be the law governing the area of the legal problem stated and suggest what might be the approach to finding a legal solution. Under no circumstances is this author acting as the attorney for the party who posted the question or as the attorney for subsequent readers to the question or response and no attorney client relationship is being formed. This attorney's comments are not intended to be a substitute for getting legal advice from a licensed attorney. A reader of this author's comments should never act on the information provided in these comments as though these comments were legal advice and should always seek legal advice in a personal consultation with an attorney in their jurisdiction before taking action. The information provided here is not intended to cover every situation with similar facts. Please remember that the law varies between states and other countries and is always changing through actions of the courts and the Legislature.

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