Pontotoc, MS asked in Real Estate Law and Probate for Mississippi

Q: Can I be named sole owner of my grandmother's property? She died 11 years ago and had a will.

At the time of my grandmother's death she still owed a mortgage on her house. I paid off mortgage and have paid all taxes and upkeep on property. Her will states house is to be divided between my aunt, her 3 kids and myself. No one has paid anything except me. Her will has not been probated. Can I claim sole ownership of said property after 11 years of paying for everything? I have tried talking and writing to aunt with no response back.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Nina Whitehurst
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  • Probate Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: A person's will cannot be changed after the person has passed.

It sounds like you are living in the house and that is why you have paid the mortgage, taxes and upkeep. When one co-owner pays carrying costs, normally that co-owner is entitled to reimbursement from the other co-owners for their percentage shares of the bills. However, the other co-owners will likely claim that it was appropriate for you to pay the bills because you were living there and they were not. They may or may not succeed with that claim because they could have lived there too and chose not to.

If you actively excluded the others from living in the house, that is another situation completely. You should talk to a local real estate litigation attorney about your options to either claim reimbursement from the others for most of what you have paid or claim title by adverse possession.

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