Death of a Parent with No will

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Death of a Parent with No will

My father passed away on 3-23-2019. He lived in another state and was renting a room in a house. I was told by a neighbor that the landlord changed the locks to his room weeks before he passed. He was in a nursing care facility at the time. Are the landlords of the home allowed to enter his room and take things or go through his things without permission from a living relative. He didn’t have a Will but I’m the only family he has left and I don’t feel they should be able to go through his things and take or move around anything in his room without consent of a family member. I was told that he hid money in his room in case of an emergency. How would I know if the owner entered already and has taken his stuff?

Asked on March 25, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, the landlord may not take anything belonging to the deceased tenant: doing so is theft (from the estate and/or heirs) and is a crime. The landlord may go into the room to see if there is any organic garbage or dangerous items to be disposed of, to secure it against the elements (e.g. make sure the window is closed), to turn off lights or turn down the heat, etc.--all of which are legitimate concerns of the landlord--but cannot "go through" the tenant's belongings. If you believe items were taken, contact the police.


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