If 1 of 5 siblings lives in their late mother’s house, are they allowed to live there during probate rent free?

One of my sibling has lived in our mom’s house for about 1.5 years and has not paid anything. She passed on

last week. Do they get to stay in the house for free during probate?

Asked on October 1, 2017 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is up to the executor (if there is a will), or the court-appointed personal representative or adminsitrator (if there is no will; either term may be used): this is the person who has legal authority over the estate and its assets (e.g. property) and the duty to act in the interest of the beneficiaries. If the other siblings are ok with the one living there rent free, it would be reasonable for the executor, etc. to let him or her do so: after all, if the other beneficiaries are content with not receiving rent and with this sibling getting a benefit the others do not, the executor does not need to interpose his/her values or judgment. Indeed, there are some advantages to having the home occupied: the one living there can maintain it, call for repairs as necessary, keep it up, and occupied homes are less likely to be vandalized. 
On the other hand, if the other beneficiaries are opposed to this, the executor could, in his/her judgment as to what is best, either charge rent (with the rent being used to maintain the home and any surplus to be accumulated and distributed to the beneficiaries) or remove the the one sibling from the home, especially if he/she is causing damage to it.

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