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Inheritance problems with home...

Brooklyn, NY |

Hello, A few years ago one of my parents passed away, and now my other parent is dying . My sibling lives in the home, married with a child. I am the life estate trustee for the home and I want to have the home sold. I am concerned it will be easier for him to squat in the home and make it impossible for me to sell the home. In addition, I don't see him being motivated to buy me out as well. Can I force and eviction and the sale of the home, so we can both get our equal inheritance or am I stuck with a squatter that will end up keeping my parent's home? Who handles such matters?

Forgot to add, my sibling does have beneficiary rights. So he is entitled to half of the home.

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Best answer

    Unfortunately, if your surviving parent has this "house guest" more likely than not, there is no way to get him out until your surviving parent passes and you come into ownership of the house. If your sibling/house guest is a distributee under the trust, you may have to bring a partition action to compel the sale of the property. Otherwise, you will just bring an ejectment proceeding. I hope I answered your questions, unfortunately this is not as unusual as you would think.


  2. There are ways to get rid of a squatter but in order to figure out how to do it, more specific information is needed. The term "life estate trustee" is puzzling to me. I suspect you are mixing up two legal terms that have very different meanings. To answer your question you need to review the whole situation and all the relevant documents, such as a trust instrument, with a lawyer who is knowledgeable about probate, trusts, and litigation.

    Any opinions stated in response to Avvo questions are based upon the facts stated in the question. Responses to Avvo questions are for general information purposes only, and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice.


  3. As already indicated by Mr. Brophy, you're created a hybrid term "life estate trustee" that makes little sense to us. If you hold a life estate, then you will become the owner. If you have been named in a will (or wills) as "trustee" of a trust that's setup for your sibling's benefit, then you would be charged with the responsibility for your sibling's inheritance, her share of the house included.

    If you become the owner or one of the owners whether or not you are your sibling's trustee, if your sibling is unable and/or unwilling to buy you out, you may need to bring a partition action at some point in order to have the court order the house sold and the proceeds divided accordingly.

    What does your remaining parent want to see happen? That parent and you should immediately seek to retain legal counsel to sort through and come up with a plan now.

    Also note, your sibling cannot be a squatter. A squatter is one that enters without permission. If he becomes an owner he has the right to be there and if he does not become an owner and won't leave, he'd be an invitee that you would have to evict as such.

    My answer is for general purposes only and is not not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship, nor is it advice upon which you should act or rely. But, if you really want me to tell you something upon which you can actually rely: don't eat yellow snow.


  4. Mr. Brody and Mr. Weissman have covered all your questions, I believe, except one: Who handles such matters? If the interests in the real property are created by your mother in her will or other testamentary instrument, then jurisdiction may be had in the Surrogate's Court and you would hire an experienced trusts and estates litigator. If the interests in the real property are created by your mother through lifetime gifts or transfers to you and your sibling - including life estates or trusts - then the dispute, now or once your mother dies, is between two living people and jurisdiction is in the Supreme Court and you would hire a litigator experienced in such matters. If your mother is physically and mentally able to do it, she might be well served by speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney to put in place a plan that is going to realize her goals and minimize or eliminate the need for you and your sibling to litigate now or later. - Ian W. MacLean

    This is not legal advice. If you would like legal advice, please contact the firm. The firm offers legal advice only to clients who have retained the firm in writing. New York ethics rules for attorneys and the rules of the Appellate Division require an written engagement letter or retainer agreement for all matters anticipated to exceed $3,000 in legal fees.


  5. Your narrative seems to describe one of two scenarios:
    1. Your surviving parent transferred the home to you and your sibling and retained a life estate, or
    2. Your surviving parent placed the home into a trust as part of an estate plan and you and your sibling are the presumed beneficiaries. Regardless if it is one of the two scenarios I have described however, the answer you seek will be in the documents which seem to be in place based on the language used in you question.


  6. I would have to review the deed to the property and any other documents that you have regarding this property including a living trust and will of your parents in order to tell you what options you have.

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