Adult Children Living in Parents Home

Adult Children Issues

Gayle A. Reeves - Thursday, August 23, 2018

      What happens when a child is living in the parents’ home and both parents have passed, and the child can no longer continue to live in the home?

            The situation I am seeing more frequently is a child never moves out of the parents’ home or has lived independently but has now moved back home.  In some cases, the child is disabled and not capable of living independently.  In other situations, the child has returned home due to a change in circumstances, usually financial.  The end result is the same.  The Agent under a Power of Attorney or the Executor must make a decision on what to do with the house.

            For example, child has a mild disability, and it does not prohibit her from working, handling her finances, or living independently.  However, parents have not encouraged the child to get a job, nor taught her how to handle her finances, so that she can live independently.  When Mom and Dad have passed, the child cannot afford to maintain the home and pay the expenses of it.  The Executor must sell the home to pay estate debts.  Where is the child going to live?  How is the child going to pay for her living expenses?

            Similar situation, but in this case child has a severe mental health issue which prevents him from functioning independently.  Once again, child has always lived with parents.  There is a mortgage on the home.  The Executor must sell the home to pay estate debts.  To make it worse, the Executor is a sibling who feels personally responsible for solving this problem and is having difficulty convincing his brother that he will have to move from the home.

            Many Executors (who are siblings), have a difficult time resolving the financial necessity of selling the home and the sense of personal responsibility for what happens to his or her sibling.  Sometimes this results in anger and resentment between the siblings.  In extreme circumstances, an eviction action must be taken to remove the child from the home, as they refuse to leave.  In the meantime, the home deteriorates and cannot be sold for enough to pay off the mortgage.

            Do not assume that your other children will willingly and equally pitch in, financially and emotionally, to assist with maintaining the status quo.  Think about whether it is fair to your other children to expect them to do so.  Is it worth the deterioration of the sibling relationships?

            What can a parent do to avoid this nightmare situation?  Recognize that the situation exists and create a plan to address the problem.  There are options available.  Some are simple. Some are more difficult.  This is a complicated situation, which requires professional advice.