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Richard
Richard, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 53976
Experience:  29 years of experience practicing law, including tax and estate planning.
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My mother passed in 2011 without a will, she left her home

Customer Question

my mother passed in 2011 without a will, she left her home which is now being used as rental property the rent is being collected by a sibling that money was to be used for taxes and repaires on the house but bank statements indicate the money being used
for her personal needs .what can legally be done about this .there are six surviving siblings ,should we just sell the house and split the proceeds or appoint another sibling to take over collecting the rent .what can we do legally
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.
Good morning. My name is ***** ***** I look forward to helping you.
To the extent your sibling is using any money for her personal needs, she basically stealing 5/6 of that money from the other 5 siblings. This gives you some alternatives specifically with regard to her actions. One, you have recourse from both the civil side and the criminal side. You could file a civil suit against her to recover the money she's stolen plus punitive damages due to her intentional misconduct. You could also pursue criminal charges. To be honest with you, your best alternative here is to pursue this from the civil side. A criminal prosecution a much higher burden of proof..."beyond a reasonable doubt" versus simply "preponderance of the evidence" on the civil side. And, even if you could get a prosecutor to pursue this, you would then find her likely spending any money she has to defend herself rather than paying back the money. Before actually filing the suit or pursuing criminal prosecution, you'd want to send her a demand letter for repayment. Two, you can clearly remove her from any responsibility as the party in charge of the property in light of her prior actions and have another sibling continue to rent the property. Three, any of you can force a sale of the property by filing a suit for partition if all of you won't agree. When there are co-owners of property and one or more want to sell (Group A) and one or more do not want to sell (Group B), if Group B won't either agree to sell or purchase the interests of Group A at a price agreeable to Group A, then Group A can file a suit for partition. The result of that suit will be one of the following: i) if the property can be equitably subdivided, the court will order the property divided into smaller parcels with each owner then owning 100% of their own smaller tract with full control over that tract; or ii) if the property cannot be equitably subdivided, the court will order the property sold and the proceeds divided. Since a house cannot be divided, the court will order the house sold. The reality is that in most cases, once Group B finds out the certainty of the result of a suit for partition, those in Group B typically agree to the sale without the suit to avoid the costs of the suit.
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