If my father recently passed away without any assets and I am his executor, is it legal for me to just walk away from the entire situation?

UPDATED: Sep 24, 2014

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If my father recently passed away without any assets and I am his executor, is it legal for me to just walk away from the entire situation?

His townhouse is bank owned and will be taken by the bank in a few weeks. He had few assets that I am aware of. Do I have any legal responsibility to clear out his personal belongings? Besides being named executor, I have no personal claim on any of his assets whatsoever and was never involved in his finances. My name is on nothing. Can I take small sentimental items out before the bank takes the townhouse? Can I donate anything to charity or is it best to just walk away? I am not going to probate to try to claim anything.

Asked on September 24, 2014 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  You have no legal obligation to Petition the court to be the executor of the estate.  You can renounce that position. As for the personal property, the final right the property owner has after foreclosure is that the borrower can take all of the personal property from the mortgaged property. Although the lender has the right to the home, and may evict the property owner from the home after the foreclosure sale, the borrower always has a right to remove all of his property from the home, including televisions, couches, and household furnishings and appliances. The property owner must leave any fixtures, which the law defines as property that is permanently fixed to the land, but the borrower can take all other property with him.  So as the heir I would say take those few personal itens you wish now. Good luck.

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