As personal representative, may I enter my father’s home to collect his assets?

The home is jointly owned by his former fiance but she has recently been placed in an assisted living facility by the state. We need to complete the inventory and collect his personal possessions. His fiance has given me verbal permission to enter the home, however her illness prevents her from writing. My father was her caretaker before he passed. The problem is that his fiance has a daughter who changed the locks and sold some of his belongings immediately after my father’s death. The daughter has her own residence. She does not live in my father’s home. She is of no relation to my father and with her mother removed from the home, does she have any right to be there? There is not any power of attorney or any legal forms that require her to be in that house. Can the daughter keep me away when I have my letters of appointment?

Asked on June 15, 2016 under Estate Planning, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, the daughter can't keep you out as your father's personal representative: you may need to go to court, however, to get a court order requiring her to let you in, in order to have the assistance of law enforcement (e.g. municipal police or county sheriff) to legally enter when she has physically locked you out. You probably want to bring the legal action to do so on an "emergent" (think: "urgent" or "emergency") basis so as to get into court in a week or two, not in months, and to do that, you most likely want a lawyer's assistance--filing an emergent basis is substantially more complex, procedurally, than, say, bringing a small claims action.
While in court, you could also seek an order requiring her to return any property you can identify as having been your father's, and/or to at least provide a full list of everything taken and its disposition, so you can later follow up legally (e.g by suing her for theft) if necessary.

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