Can an Executor in GA lock the house and prohibit a beneficiary from entering?

Brother-in-law is living in a barn on the property for the last 20 years with his
parents who lived in the house. Both have now died. He is a drunk and has no job,
pays no rent. He has damaged almost everything around, vehicles, gates, etc. But
he won’t leave Now I get a letter from his lawyer asking me to allow him in the
house. Meanwhile we are working to fix up the house and ready it for sale. It has
been 7 months and he refuses to move. No one will want to buy it with a drunk in
the barn. What can we do? He is harassing us and leaving messages. Please help.

Asked on April 6, 2017 under Estate Planning, Georgia

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Normally, an executor can prohibit a beneficiary from living on estate property while probate is open, especially if "waste" is being committed by the beneficiary. The fact is that an executor has a fiduciary duty to protect assets of the estate from damage and loss. However, since this beneficiary is living on the premises and was initially doing so with the late owners' permission, then they have established rights as either a "tenant" or "guest". Accordingly, you cannot simply limit their access to the property. They must be given legal notice to vacate. Then, if they fail to remove themselves by the date given, as executor you can file for an "unlawful detainer" (i.e. eviction) or for an "action in ejectment" (the first is to remove a tenant; the latter is to remove a guest). At this point you should consult directly with a local attorney; they can best advise you further.    


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