If my father recently passed away and he owned a home in which his girlfriend was also living, what rights doI have to enter the home?

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If my father recently passed away and he owned a home in which his girlfriend was also living, what rights doI have to enter the home?

My sister and I contacted my deceased father’s girlfriend and she said that she did not want me at the house and would call the cops if I showed up to get my father’s things. Her name is not on the house but she has been living there or about 5 years. Is it within my rights to enter the home to get my father’s belongings? What are her rights, if any, to the house?

Asked on June 12, 2011 under Estate Planning, Maryland

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I don't know whether or not your father left a Will; if he did its terms will control the distribution of assets. Since you did not mention one I will assume that he did not. In that case, as his heir, you would have rights to his things. Again, I don't know certain facts. Are you his only child? If you have siblings, they too are his heirs. Also, even though your father had a girlfriend did he also leave a wife (even if they were separated for a period of years she would too have rights in his estate).

At any rate, as an heir you have rights to your deceased father's belongings. Further, your father's estate (basically you and any other heirs) can move to have this woman removed from the property. At this point she will be considered to be either a holdover tenant (if she ever paid rent, utilities, etc) or a licensee (someon whoe invited to stay on the property). If permission for them to remain is now revoked by the estate (or owner once the estate is probated), an unlawful detainer action (i.e. eviction) can be filed against her.

Note: Do not attempt to remove her belongings until all legal proceedinsg regarding the evcition have been finalized.


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