Can I take ownership of estate property?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I take ownership of estate property?

A family member died 11 years ago and left a house to be split between 2 family members. These were also the 2 executors named in the Will. Neither has acted on the will or executorships since the death, leaving the property in limbo. I have been living in the house now for 6 years. Can I take ownership of the property?

Asked on June 14, 2018 under Estate Planning, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, you may not. Living in property belonging to others does not give you any right to ownership of that property and cannot override the terms of the will, which left it to the two people you mention. Their delay in taking action also does not give you any right to another's property. If no one has acted on the property, you have presumably been living there without paying rent to anyone--that would be what you get in this case, since even after they do take action, they cannot retroactively require you to pay rent for the time you have been there.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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