Does a minor or adult co-habittee have legal rights?

About 2 years ago a neighbor showed up on my grandfather’s doorstep with his wife and teen daughter begging my grandpa to take them in because he had been deported. The woman and child have been living with my grandpa since. The daughter started college this year and uses my grandpa’s address as her permanent address. The mother does not work and continues to live in my grandpa’s home. Do the mother or daughter have any property or financial rights now or if my grandpa passes away?

Asked on November 28, 2011 under Estate Planning, Virginia


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The only rights that these people have is a right to receive a 30 day notice to vacate the premises. That is so long as there is no formal lease in effect. Even though they are not paying rent and are not renters there are long term guests. This makes then "licensees" and accordingly they must be given a 30 notice if your grandfather wants them to leave. If they fail to remove themselves from the premises they will have to be formally evicted. Until a court grants a writ of possession (or your state's equivalent) do not remove their belongings or change the locks.

What you may want to do is to confirm with your grandfather that he has not put either or both of their names on the title to his house. If he has, than obviously they will have rights to the house now as owners. Also, see if they are mentioned in your grandfather's Will. If they are then they will have inheritance rights as provided in the Will.

Bottom line, if your grandfather is elderly, you want to make sure that he is not being taken advantage of and unduly influenced by these people.

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