Q: It’s been a year since mom and dad passed. My sister moved in with them uninvited, several years ago, and has controlled and abused the house and their finances since they became ill. She hasn’t had any intention of moving so we can go thru their things, to set up sale of the property. My brother is executor, and is very soft spoken, and still paying the utilities from the parent’s savings. Paying for car repairs and new tires for her to drive parent’s cars! It is not right . She has always taken advantage of my parents, even when she has her own money. Never paying or calling pay utilities, car gas, etc. She is driving the wheels off their cars. And, now my brother is still enabling her to continue this behavior. She also won’t move out of their house. It’s keeping us from getting the house and contents ready for auction. Can she keep us from going in the house, to prep for sale? And should my brother still be paying all her utilities and upkeep on mom and dad’s cars for her to drive? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Assuming the home is part of the residuary estate, and not specifically gifted to someone by the will, an executor has a strict duty to take control of estate real estate and prepare it for sale. This includes in a prompt and efficient manner, the cleaning of and preparing the property for sale, maintaining the property, listing it for sale and depositing the net proceeds in the estate account. This duty can become a little murky when family is involved such as in your case, with a sister living in the home. The duty still exists but can be extended or modified if all heirs agree. If not, the duties of the executor can legally be invoked.