If my mother has passed without a Will, who owns her house now?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If my mother has passed without a Will, who owns her house now?

My brother passed soon after her. Now my sister who lives on the property says that it’s hers. How is that when my mom’s name is still on the deed? When she passed, her property was passed down to my sister, brother and I. We were to split it 3 ways. My brother then passed, making his 3 children entitled to his 1/3 share. My sister lives on the property and won’t allow anyone else to live on it. How is that legal? Also, she’s said that she must be reimbursed for all improvements that she’s done to the property. Since the house is still in my mother’s name, how is my sister getting the property?

Asked on July 6, 2018 under Estate Planning, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

First of all, did your mother have a Will? If so, then the executor is now in charge of the property until probate is closed. If she had no Will, then a personal representaive (which is like an executor) must be appointed by the probate cpourt. Typically, a family member is so appointed. Again, they are in charge of the adminstration of the estate until probate is closed. Once closed and title to the property is transferred into the names of the heirs, then as property owners, you will all decide what happens with the property. If you sister is the executor/personal representative then she can decide who does or doesn't have the right to enter the propertybut only until the close of probate. As for reimbursement of her expenses, that will be up to the court to decide.

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