Can my sister change the locks and refuse us to enter my Mother’s house.

Hi,
My mother recently got put in a retirement home. She has a will where all her
assets and home are divided equally among the 4 of us. My sister is power of
attorney. Out of the blue, she changed the locks on my mother’s house and will
not let us in? Can she do this legally? If not, what steps do I take to remedy
this?
Thanks

Asked on March 8, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If your sister is the attorney-in-fact (had power from a POA), then if you were not living in your mother's home, she can do this, because she has the same right as your mother would have had to have not let other people (even children) into her home--note that until she passes, the will is irrelevant, because wills only control what happens to assets and property after death, and are ineffective while the person lives.
If you were living in your mother's home, she can put you out--the same as your mother could have told you to stop living in her home--but cannot due so by simply changing the locks; to put out a person living in a home with permission, you have to file an "ejectment" action in court and have the court and court officers do this. (If you were living there *and* paying rent, however, you were tenants, and could only be evicted for nonpayment, breaching a lease or similar good cause (such as damaging the property or being disorderly), or when the lease expires, on notice).


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