How do I include my mother’s furniture and belongings in probate without an attorney?

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How do I include my mother’s furniture and belongings in probate without an attorney?

My mother passed unexpectedly about 3 weeks ago, and she did not have a Will. I am her only child. She was living with a boyfriend of many years, and shared the lease with him. This boyfriend was abusive verbally and physically to her, and the police have many calls on record for showing up to the address, but there are no charges that have ever been filed. He is claiming that he will be keeping all of her furniture, including what is in her room. They did not share a room. We have no receipts or any paperwork that shows proof that she owned it, aside from it being in her room. There are other pieces of furniture in the living room that is hers as well. How can I prevent him from claiming they are his and make sure probate will include them? I have a court date next month. We have no attorney and cannot afford one.

Lauren Boyce

Asked on October 31, 2017 under Estate Planning, Virginia

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss. Ok so if they were not married and she was not supporting him in any way he has no right to have an insurance policy on her life.  He has no "insurable interest" under the law.  That makes me think that it is her policy (as owner) not his.  The beneficiary designation will hold unless you can prove it was signed under duress (and the abuse may be good proof).  I would write a letter to the insurance company and copy the state Insurance Department and tell them you are challening the policy and that you would like them to "interplead" the funds in to court.  If you Mom was on the lease and you are filling out a Probate Petition to be appointed by the court as her Personal Representative list the property she owned.  Don't worry about receipts right now.  Once appointed you are entitled to "marshall" the assets meaning you can take them to safe guard them.  You may need the Sheriff to help you but I would not go alone and I would call the landlord and ask for access. You need to pursue the charges against him as well. Take your family with you for support.  You all need eachother right now.  Good lukc.


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