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What Happens to a Decedent’s Residence Upon Death

shutterstock_1021207423-300x200In New York there are many different types of residences that may have been occupied by a decedent.  The settlement of an estate may be impacted by the nature of such home.  For instance, a person may have been living in a rental apartment, or in a cooperative or condominium unit.  Another possibility is that a decedent owned and resided in a single or multi-family home.

An estate attorney in New York who is also experienced with landlord-tenant and real estate issues can assist with administrating such properties.  Where a decedent lived in a rental apartment, the estate does not own any equity in the apartment and it does not have any value that can be sold or collected.  However, some apartments, such as rent-stabilized or rent controlled units, are given certain rights which allow designated family members to continue to live there.  Such rights are called succession rights and these can be very valuable especially where the rent is low.

The protection of residence rights can be complicated.  In a recent Brooklyn case entitled College Apartments, LLC v. Gedeon decided by Civil Court Judge Hannah Cohen on December 18, 2020, a landlord had commenced a non-payment of rent eviction case against the tenant.  As it turned out, the tenant had died before the case was commenced.  The son of the decedent tried to settle the case with the landlord and alleged that he was entitled to succession rights.  After reviewing the case following a settlement, the Court dismissed the proceeding since the death of a defendant prior to the commencement of an action results in the action being a nullity.  Fortunately for the son, he was able to retain counsel who sought to dismiss the case even after the settlement.

When a decedent owns a cooperative apartment or other property, there are many issues that can arise and affect estate administration.  At the outset it must be determined who has a right to deal with the property transfer or sale.  This matter may revolve around whether an executor or administrator needs to be appointed or whether the property is held jointly with someone who has rights of survivorship.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles talking about estate settlement and real estate matters.

Issues also may be presented when estate property is occupied by third parties who need to be removed in order for the property to be inspected, maintained or sold.  This particular problem has been accentuated recently since there are restrictions on evictions due to the pandemic.

As an estate and real estate attorney, I have represented fiduciaries and estate beneficiaries in connection with the sale and transfer of condominiums and cooperative apartments and real estate of all kinds.  Sometimes there may be estate litigation concerning the ownership of a decedent’s property or the improper transfer of it prior to or after death.

If you have an estate question or real estate concern, Call Me Now for a free confidential review of your issue.  We provide reasonable and flexible fee arrangements and personal representation.

New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 40 years resolve issues relating to guardianship and probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nassau and Suffolk County.  If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial free consultation.

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