What rights does my mother have?

Her boyfriend of 20 years recently passed away. They have been living together for 19 years total. My mom became ill and he took care of all her expenses and medical bills. He has 4 houses total and divided them equally between his two kids on the will. The house my mom and him lived is was left to his daughter but he stated that my mother can live there as long as she chooses. But now the daughter is trying to find ways to get her out. The heater went out and they will not fix it. They are telling her they want her to move out so they can remodel the house and she will rent out the other rooms while my mom stays in another room.

My mom is on disability and does not speak English well. She does not know if she has any rights or if she has any choice. What is her rights and does she have to leave?

Asked on April 21, 2016 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If all she has is his having stated that she could live there as long as she wants, she is *not* a life tenant: to be a life tenant, there needs to be written instrument (e.g. a deed) which specifically gives her a life tenancy. If there is no such instrument, then she was simply a guest of his. He may have had the intention of letting her live there indefinitely, but his intention, to be blunt, died with him; his wishes do not bind the house's new owner, his daughter. The daughter may ask your mother to leave at any time; if you mother does not, the daughter may file an "ejectment" action in court ("ejectment" is eviction for non-rent-paying tenants) which will remove your mother in, probably, 2 - 4 months. Your mother has no right to stay there, unless she was actually made a life tenant, which does not appear to the case, when the home's owner does not want her, regardless of  how long she has lived there or what the prior owner wanted.


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