DO I NEED TO HIRE A LAWYER TO PROTECT MY RIGHTS REGARDING A DISPUTE OVER ALLEGED ESTATE PROPERTY?

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DO I NEED TO HIRE A LAWYER TO PROTECT MY RIGHTS REGARDING A DISPUTE OVER ALLEGED ESTATE PROPERTY?

MY FIANCE DIED 2 MONTHS AGO. I LIVED IN HIS HOUSE; HE HAD NO WILL. HIS DAUGHTER HIRED AN ATTORNEY AND SHE IS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE. SHE HAD ME EVICTED FROM THE HOUSE WHEN I MOVED OUT. I LEFT ALL OF MY FIANCE’S PROPERTY. I JUST REMOVED THE THINGS THAT I MOVED IN WITH PLUS ALL THAT I HAD PURCHASED WHILE LIVING THERE; I HAVE CREDIT CARD RECEIPTS ALONG WITH OTHER RECEIPTS TO SHOW AS PROOF. NOW 2 MONTHS LATER I AM GETTING LETTERS FROM THE ESTATE ATTORNEY STATING THAT I RETURN ALL OF THE PROPERTY THAT I MOVED OUT. I AM ALSO BEING ACCUSED OF TAKING PROPERTY THAT I KNOW I LEFT IN THE HOUSE.

Asked on April 24, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You *definitely* should hire an attorney to help you--after all, the other side has an attorney, so why place yourself at a significant disadvantage?

Anything you can prove you paid for entirely on your own--and did not "gift" to your fiance (since gifts are final; they can't be taken back)--should be yours. Anything you can prove you paid part of, you should have a claim to it (e.g. be able to get a share of its value, if sold at an estate sale), but probably should not have been removed from the property. The big issue, besides establishing proof of your payment, may be showing that you did not gift these items to your fiance, since, as noted above, to the extent they are gifts, you have no claim to them.


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