Thomaston, GA asked in Estate Planning for Georgia

Q: Can a sibling file suit againt other siblings for back taxes on a family house she is staying in when she's the executor?

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Cary, NC
  • Licensed in Georgia

A: You do not provide enough information to know what is really going on here. The person who died - did he or she have a will? If so, what did it say about the property? If there was no will, then the property would be inherited by the dead person's spouse, if any, and children. I assume that the deceased lived in Georgia and that it is where the land would be located.

Land usually passes as of the minute of death to the heirs or beneficiaries. They are responsible for bills, mortgage, taxes etc. unless there is some direction to the contrary in the will.

If there is no will and no spouse, then all of the children have an equal share in the whole property and no one child is entitled to exclusive possession of the property. And the sibling who is the executor does not get to stay in the home rent free. If she/he wants the home, the proper thing to do would be to buy out the share of those who don't want it. If nobody can afford to do that, then any of the siblings can bring what is called a partition action and force a sale.

Assuming that all of the children inherited the land then all of the children owe a proportional share of the taxes, mortgage, insurance and upkeep. On the other hand, all are entitled to share in the profits of the home, including the rental value of the home. I don't know what the taxes are or what the rental value is or how long the executor has been able to live rent free. If the executor is staying there rent free and not paying rent to the other siblings but solely paying the taxes, then that is fine assuming the two things balance out. But the executor cannot live there rent free and claim that more than the fair share was paid in taxes and that the other siblings have to chip in. If that is attempted, then I would file a counterclaim for the back rent.

The ability to seek contribution for rent or taxes is going to depend on the statute of limitations. So if the executor has lived in the home for 10 years, he/she may not be able to claim contribution for all those years.

I suggest that rather than let this situation continue (its a bad idea for more than 2 people to own land), that you and other siblings who have a like mind meet with a real estate litigation attorney and try to resolve this matter with the siblings who want to keep the home buying out the shares of those who don't want the home. If the siblings cannot agree, then the property should be sold and the proceeds divided. Partition should be a last resort.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.