Trustee/Beneficiarybrother won’t list house left to myself and siblings, father died 2 years ago, can I move into the house he also lives there as a way to get him to list the house.

My father died 2 years ago, my brother is the Trustee and he keeps
stalling to put the house on the market, he lived there with my dad when
he passed and now I think he wants to continue to live there rent free,
I hired a lawyer to send him a letter to put the house on the market but
he refused, I can’t afford to pursue this in court so I want to move
into the house so he will put it on the market because he didn’t want to
live with me so is it legal for me to move in ? The house is in Vero
Beach Florida.

Asked on September 7, 2016 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you are an owner of the house now (e.g. on title), or under the plain terms of the trust have the right to live there (you have to review the specific terms of the trust to see what it says), then you have the right to move in. However, the way real estate and landlord-tenant and related areas of the law work, if he doesn't physically let you in--e.g.he refuses to give you keys--you will have to go to court for a court order to get in. (I.e. you can't force your way in, and the police or other law enforcement will not help you gain access without a court order.) And even if you do get in--suppose he does not then sell? Will you continue living with him indefinitely? It is highly likely you will need an attorney on this case at some point, so you should really get one now and bring a legal action in chancery court requiring him to sell the house. 
Or to look at this way: if the house is worth (after paying an mortgage or any delinquent taxes) tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, it's worth spending a few thousand dollars on a lawyer--if there are other siblings involved, they may share the cost with you. If the house is underwater or its mortgage or otherwise economically valueless (e.g. it needs so much money in repairs to sell, compared to its value, that you won't make anything on it), then let him live there--it's not worth your effort or turning your life upside down.
And note: if you truly cannot afford a lawyer at all, or simply refuse to hire one, you are allowed to act as your own attorney ("pro se") (though this is obviously not the best or recommended court). You can get a copy of the court rules and get instructions and possibly sample forms from the court and bring a legal action yourself.


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