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Did You Know That Occupancy of Estate Property May Result in Liability for Rent

One of the most valuable assets compromising an estate is real estate.  Typically, a decedent may own a home which he occupied with other individuals or which third parties occupied alone.

When the Surrogate’s Courts appoints an Administrator or Executor, the duties of the fiduciary often include securing and selling the real estate.  The real estate may need to be sold to satisfy estate obligations such as a mortgage or credit card bills or other debt obligations.  Also, the property may need to be liquidated to divide up the proceeds among a number of beneficiaries.

There are many situations where the persons residing in the estate property refuse to vacate.  I have represented numerous estates where landlord tenant eviction proceedings were required to evict persons occupying estate property.  Additionally, there are estate litigation proceedings that can be commenced in the Surrogate’s Court to remove persons from estate property.  These proceedings can be ejectment cases or turn-over proceedings pursuant to Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act 2103 entitled “Proceeding by fiduciary to discover property withheld or obtain information”.

When third parties are improperly occupying estate property, the Courts have allowed these persons to be charged monthly use and occupancy, which is like rent.  It has been recognized that a person occupying estate premises must pay a monthly charge for failing to timely vacate.

A recent Staten Island estate case decided by Richmond County Surrogate Robert Gigante involved the imposition of charges for use and occupancy.  In Matter of Estate of Neller, decided on December 20, 2018, individuals who occupied the decedent’s property as co-tenants with the estate Administrators were found to be liable for $108,000 in monthly use and occupancy charges due to their failure to properly vacate the decedent’s property.  The amount that was assessed was based upon the testimony of a real estate professional regarding the appropriate monthly rental value that should have been charged.

There are many estates where real estate needs to be handled properly by estate fiduciaries.  I have been involved with the sale of many real estate properties as well as the eviction of occupants.  These matters can be time-concerning and delay estate settlement if not dealt with efficiently.

Call me now for a free discussion regarding estate and real estate issues.  I work closely with title companies and other professionals so that these issues may be resolved and beneficiaries can receive their share of estate assets.  We offer reasonable and flexible fee arrangements.

New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to probate and estate settlement throughout New York State including Nassau County and the Bronx.   If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.

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