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New York Estate Beneficiaries May Be Responsible For Rental Use of Estate Real Property

Many estates in New York have assets that include real estate. The most common situation is that a decedent owned a single or multi-family home. Very often the home was the decedent’s residence at the time of death. Additionally, other family members may have been living in the home. The problem that is encountered is that the real estate residence needs to be sold or transferred as part of the settlement of the estate. The continued occupancy of the residence by family members can prevent the sale or transfer.

The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed this issue in a number of earlier posts. There are a number of avenues that an estate executor or administrator can follow to seek possession of the property and evict the remaining occupants. A turn-over proceeding can be commenced in the Surrogate’s Court. Also, it may be possible to obtain an eviction in the local housing or Landlord-Tenant Court. These proceedings, whether brought in the Surrogate’s Court or the Landlord-Tenant Court, seek to have occupants removed from estate property.An additional issue that may arise in these types of cases is whether the occupant should be liable to pay rent or use and occupancy to the estate for the period of time that the occupancy was unauthorized. A recent case decided on June 28, 2017 by Brooklyn Surrogate Margarita Lopez Torres entitled Matter of Bowser, dealt with this issue. In Bowser, the spouse of a beneficiary under a decedent’s Last Will refused to vacate the decedent’s property after the decedent died. Due to this circumstance the estate administrator filed a proceeding in the Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court to obtain possession of the property and evict the holdover occupant and to obtain a monetary award of use and occupancy.

After a hearing the Court found that the occupant’s residency in the house was unauthorized and that such unauthorized occupancy lasted for a period of almost 5 years. The Court also received testimony from a real estate appraiser as to the value of the monthly use and occupancy amount. Based upon the information and testimony presented, the Court directed the occupant pay to the estate the sum of $188,351.60 for use and occupancy along with an additional amount for attorneys fees and disbursements.

I have represented numerous estate executors and administrators in estate litigation proceedings to evict unauthorized occupants from estate property. These proceedings can be complicated and may take a long time to be finalized.

If you have a question or issue regarding estate property or probate or administration, call me now for a free review.   New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to probate, estate settlement and real estate cases throughout New York City including Manhattan and Brooklyn. 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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