Death of a Parent with No will

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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