If heirs have lived on land that they are to inherit but have paid no rent, do they still have a legal right to inherit regardless of the fact they have lived on the property for free?

My grandmother’s estate is to be probated (with a Will). Now 2 of the 7 heirs have had the use of the property, to be inherited, rent free for most of their lives (still living on it). One of the other heirs says the heirs living on the property should not get any money from the sale of the property because they have had the use of the property. I am the executrix and I don’t think that has anything to do with whether or not they inherit. Who is right?

Asked on March 1, 2013 under Estate Planning, West Virginia


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

I am not admitted to practice law in West Virginia and do not know if any special provisions apply there.  There might be some legal theories upon which the 5 heirs could demand that the other 2 pay something for the value of living on the land, but I suspect they would lose.  The inheritance is separate from the liftetime use of the land and not automatically linked.  The estate lawyer will represent you, the executrix.  Ask the estate lawyer what to do about this, but I suspect the answer will be to carry out the terms of the will without a set-off against the 2 heirs living on the land.  If the other heirs want to dispute this, they can hire their own lawyer and litigate it.  The cost of defending it will come out of their inheritance.

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