Can I opt to keep a house I inherited as a rental unit? The will states sell upon death and I get the proceeds.

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I opt to keep a house I inherited as a rental unit? The will states sell upon death and I get the proceeds.

I am asking for my autistic cousin. He inherited his grandmothers house. He is the sole heir. The will says to sell the property upon death and he is to get the proceeds. He cannot work and is currently living on what little his mother left him and food assistance. He was turned down for disability through Social Security and we are in the process of appealing that.

He would like to rent the house which would bring in approximately 1,300 a month to him. If he sells the house he could not get that kind of return by investing the money.

Is he obligated to sell a house he inherited. His grandmother would not have put this in her will if she knew it would hurt him. She was 98 when she did this and not thinking it through.

Thanks for any advise.


Asked on June 2, 2016 under Estate Planning, Delaware


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It doesn't matter what you believe his grandmother would or would not have done--a will controls the disposition of property after the testator's (person making the will) death. If the will is valid, its terms must be followed: there is no discretion. And if you challenge its terms on the grounds that she was not mentally capable when she made the will, that would invalidate the entire will--i.e., he may not inherit, if there are other heirs who might inherit or at least share in the house under intestate succession (the laws for who gets what when there is no will), like other grandchildren.

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