what can I do as excutor?

my fathers will states that after his death, ‘If able to’ his wife is to live in the home. His wife has all-timers therefore needs 24hr nursing care, making her unable to maintain care for the estate. Her daughter is caring for her both are living in the estate, however as executor of my father’s will, I am wanting to sell the home to help pay my fathers debt. Can I sell the estate?

Asked on June 6, 2017 under Estate Planning, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Based on what you write, it appears you cannot sell the house. Your stepmother is evidently "able to" live there--it may be with the assistance of her live-in daughter, who is caring for her, but even so, she is living there. You do not cite any language stating that she must be able to live there without assistance.  Since she is demonstrably able to live there with her daughter's help, under the will language you cite, your stepmother has the right to live there, which will obviously impact your ability to sell the home. (In theory, you could sell it to someone willing to wait to take possession until the stepmother dies or voluntarily moves out, but you are highly unlikely to find such a buyer.) And as someone who appears in court weekly in related matters (evictions), I can state with a high degree of confidence that given *any* legal room or grounds whatsoever to not remove your stepmother, very few judges will kick a widowed spouse with Alzheimer's, who is being cared for by her daughter, out of her deceased husband's home.

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