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My mom willed her home to myself & my two brothers, I live in the home now & paid rent. How should the bills be handled/split?

Hopedale, MA |

Our home is a duplex & our dad is allowed to live on the other side until his death or he's no longer able to do so. Do I have any legal obligation to still pay rent?

Attorney Answers 7

  1. It is unclear whether your mother has died, so I'm going to assume she has. Her will should have been probated and the attorney who assisted with that would help resolve these issues. If her will has not been probated, you will need an attorney to do so--all of her assets and debts would be resolved and the transfer of ownership would be complete through the registry of deeds.

    This is a process that is required by law, either formally or informally, to ensure that everyone is notified of their rights, claims are paid, and assets that you may or may not know about are found. Additionally, you don't want to be held personally liable for not having completed the transfer of ownership through the legal process.

    Providing users with information is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship. However, if in reading my response, you are interested in retaining me to represent you, please do not hesitate to contact me.

  2. Has her will been admitted to probate? If it has been, title vests in you and your brothers as of the date of her death. Whether you are obligated to pay rent is something which needs to be negotiated between you and your brothers; however, as you are receiving a benefit from the property, I think your brothers have a good case that you are obligated to pay something.

    See a good probate attorney for guidance.

    E. Alexandra "Sasha" Golden is a Massachusetts lawyer. All answers are based on Massachusetts law. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.

  3. I agree with the previous posts. Local law may provide certain answers for you. In CA for example, a legal co-owner who resides in the property does not have to pay rent. But, most times it is negotiated. Payment of the bills are made by the individuals who reside in the property--just like unrelated tenants who would rent the property.

  4. I am sorry for your loss
    In stating that your dad has a life estate, it sounds like the house was transferred to you prior to your mother's death. If that in fact is the case, you hold a 1/3 interest in the house subject to your father's life estate.
    A life tenant is responsible for the expenses of a property as well as entitled to the income. With that, your father should be paying the expenses and determining if you should pay rent. I recommend that you all meet with an elder law attorney to determine how to proceed. If in fact your ownership comes from your mother's Will and it has yet to be probated, be sure the attorney you meet with is familiar with both probate and elder law. Good luck.

    *** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and have an office in Reading.. My practice is focused in the areas of elder law, estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state.

  5. Since you only own a third, you have an obligation to the other 2 two owners.

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  6. The responsibility of maintaining the property lies between three of you equally. But since by living on the property you are benefiting from it, your brothers might require you to continue to pay rent and any direct expenses associated with you living there (electric, water etc). With regard to any other cost associated with owning a home, such as real estate’s taxes and general maintenance, that cost will have to be split between the three of you.

  7. Thanks for your question.

    Has your mother passed on? Has your father passed on? There are a number of issues here, including issues of probate law, real estate ownership, etc.

    Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law and the limited facts presented by the questioner. All answers are provided to the general public for educational purposes only and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question. To schedule a consultation with a lawyer, and obtain advice and review of your specific legal issue, please call us today at 617-357-4898 or visit us at

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