Can a long term girlfriend open Probate for deceased boyfriend?

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Can a long term girlfriend open Probate for deceased boyfriend?

My brother died intestate and has 2 adult kids. His live in girlfriend states she owns everything because she’s lived there for 10 years. She claims she’s paid half all bills for years which is not true she gets $800 a month

Asked on September 12, 2017 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

She *only* owns outright what she bought entirely with her money or which she can show was affirmatively gifted to her; she has an ownership interest in (e.g. a half-interest in) anything they bought together; and she has NO interest at all in anything he had pre-their relationship, or inherited, or bought with his own money, or which was given him as a gift. Being a girlfirend, being the mother of his children, and living together for 10 years gives her NO legal rights, including rights to stay in the home unless she is an owner of it (on the title); girlfriend is, unlike spouse, not a legal relationship and neither it nor lengh of time conveys any rights.
You can stop her from selling your brother's goods. She cannot open probate, having no legal ties to him, unless he had a will specifically naming her as executor. And if the home was owned by him and is not being inherited (e.g. by a will) by her, she can be removed from it by the person who is the executor or administrator of the estate. There are legal actions you can bring to get a judicial determination of what her rights are--and are not; and to also stop her from selling *anything* pending such determination; and to begin (if appropriate) the process of removing her. This is procedurally complex, especially compared to--for example--a small claims case; you are strongly advised to retain an attorney to help you and to stress to the lawyer that time is of the essence--that you need a court order barring sales, etc. before she disposes of anything.


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