If both parents die and their home is paid for can a sibling move in, never report the death, leave the utilities and taxes in the mom’s name?

UPDATED: Jun 13, 2011

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If both parents die and their home is paid for can a sibling move in, never report the death, leave the utilities and taxes in the mom’s name?

Parents died, house was paid for and 1 brother just moved in. Never reported the death, never changed the utilities or taxes and the other siblings want him to put the house in his name and pay each of them a small sum for him to continue to live there. He has lived for free for 11 years and we feel it’s time he gave the rest of us something. Is what he did legal and can we do anything? Would he be responsible for all the back taxes?

Asked on June 13, 2011 under Estate Planning, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

What he did is not legal.

First, when your parents died, if there was a will, the house passed as per the will; if there was no will, it passed by intestate succession, which  most. likely means that all the siblings together inherited it. He has no right to simply move in, and you and your other siblings likely have claims to the home.

Second, there was been likely tax fraud--estate taxes; property taxes if not paid properly; income taxes possibly, if anything he's taken counts as his income; etc.

Third, there has been fraud and contractual violations--someone may not take over a service or utilities agreement or contract without the permission of the provider(s), and also may not pass himself off as another.

You and your siblings should retain a lawyer, to see what your rights are; and your brother should probably get his own lawyer, too.

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