La Mesa, CA asked in Estate Planning for California

Q: I am an heir with a reverse mortage. Can I legally still live in the house while trying to sell it?

There is a trust and everything gets divided equally between me and 2 brothers, one of whom does not live in the house. The reverse mortgage company knows we have it listed & are trying to sell it. But we were told we couldn't stay there by some people and then others said because of Covid-19 no one has to leave their homes. I am asking cause I am currently homeless while we try to sell the property. So can me and my brothers who are all heirs and beneficiaries legally stay in the home while we try to sell it?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Sally Bergman
Sally Bergman
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • San Mateo, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Whether or not you can live in the house will depend upon a number of factors. If there's a trust that leaves the proceeds of the house solely to you and you are the sole trustee, then likely it's OK. It becomes more complicated if there are other heirs not living in the house. In that case, you are getting a benefit that they are not, so you should be paying fair market rent to the estate. However, if there is no trust, a probate proceeding should be initiated as soon as possible as permission to sell the house can only be granted through probate. In the meantime, reverse mortgage companies can be very aggressive after the death of the mortgage holder. You need to show them that you are taking steps to sell the property as quickly as possible. If they don't see that happening, they'll take action to sell the property as quickly as possible with the sole intention of getting their money back, and not getting the best purchase price.

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