Missing Will

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Missing Will

My father died 4 years ago, the Will went missing, my mother had an attorney put all of my father’s properties in her name including the small condo I live in and have lived in for over 12 years after my divorce where I accidentally signed everything due me away thru an arbitration lawyer. I was in a bad way and signed without the attorney explaining what I was signing.This is the reason my father let me live in his property. Things got worse for me; I became very ill, spine, liver and kidney disease, Hep C, depression. I am now on SSDI. I lost a very good job when I got sick. I am trying to live off of $800 a month. This property I live in is paid off, I have been paying my mother $317 a month for HOA’s, taxes and insurance. My father told me many times this would be mine, I am almost sure my siblings were aware of it. My mother sent me a certified letter saying that I need to move out, she said she wants to sell it, she has other properties she can sell if she really needs money. She moved to a very expensive property in Santa Fe with my sister who has property and money. If the will can be found and my father did not state this is mine do I have any rights at all? Does a verbal agreement count. I am afraid he might not have made a final will he was physically ill toward the end, not mentally ill so I can only hope he made this mine. My mother will not speak to me nor my siblings. I am alone in this situation. I probably will end up in government institutions until I pass, which according to my doctor’s might be in 1-3 years depending on the level of care I get.

Asked on May 21, 2018 under Estate Planning, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) Nothing but a will controls what happens to a person's property or other assets after he passes away--his oral (that's the correct term, not "verbal") agreement or other expression of wishes has no effect whatsoever on a person's assest after death. So unless there was a will giving you certain rights to the property, the property would have passed by "intestate succession," which is the rules for who gets what when there is no will. In your state, that means your mother inherited everything.
2) Since it is your mother's property and you (we presume) do not have a written lease for a set period of time (e.g. a one-year, two-year, five-year, etc. lease) which is still in effect (unexpired), she may remove you on written notice. It is, as stated, her property: she determines who may live there. The exact mechanism for how she removes you will vary based on whether you are considered a guest (someone living there without any lease, oral or written, but just the property owner's permission) or a month-to-month tenant on an oral lease (if the fact that you pay $317/month were treated as your rent, and your agreement to pay that as an oral lease, which creates a month-to-month tenancy)--and arguments can be made to treat you as either--but in any event, she does have the right to remove you. You can't stay in another person's property without her permission.
3) The other factors you mention--you helath conditions; your economic distress; etc.--are irrelevant in this situation: they do not affect your mother's right to control her land.


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