Nottingham, MD asked in Estate Planning and Elder Law for Maryland

Q: Hi. For three years I moved into my mom's house and took care of her. Wondering what my rights are as one of four.

I have no expectations as one of the four children that I have sole right to the property and estate. What I am wondering is, because I am very low income, part of which is due to health issues, how much notice do I have a right to receive before they try and sell the house. For what we're looking to get for the house, and based on the shape it's in, I don't know if my share of the house will be anywhere near what I need to buy even a small townhome. And my income is so little that having to pay on a mortgage for what I can't pay off, is going to be nearly impossible. Trying to find a place to rent is going to be hard too if they look at income, although there's a possibility they would take a year's payment in advance from my share of the proceeds.

But my brother is being very hostile to me right now and my sister is only slightly better. They are trying to use threats, not physical ones, but threats about what's going to happen with the house if I don't do exactly what they want.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Cedulie Renee Laumann
Cedulie Renee Laumann
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crownsville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Once someone passes away, their property becomes a part of their probate estate. Property in the name of someone who died cannot be sold until an estate is opened and someone is appointed as Personal Representative of the estate. Your post does not indicate whether an estate has been opened or not.

While every heir has a legal right to get notice of the estate opening a Personal Representative does not have to advise the interested persons before listing a property for sale.

Legally, a tenant/occupant must be given notice to leave (the owner / operator cannot forcibly remove without following legal process). When someone (family or otherwise) is living in estate property without a lease, they may be asked to vacate the property whenever the Personal Representative wants, unless the Will gives the occupants rights to live in the property. A notice to vacate in this state should provide a minimum 30 days notice. While in most situations people leave by the deadline provided in the notice to vacate, sometimes eviction proceedings are involved through the court and with sheriffs. Of course, sometimes people leave voluntarily without any formal notice.

Often it makes sense for family to proactively meet to talk about such things. One heir cannot stay in a house they don't own unless all the others and the Personal Representative all agree. If the family situation makes sitting down to talk difficult you may consider mediation - a skilled mediator can often let everyone share their needs / desires and help the parties work out a mutually agreeable plan of action (in contrast, the court will not try to work out a mutually agreeable solution - it will only rule or grant eviction/possession based on the law).

While not legal advice, I hope that this helps.

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