What are the rights of heirs to their deceased parent’s property?

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What are the rights of heirs to their deceased parent’s property?

My sister is the property owner of the home that my recently deceased mom lived in, but she has locked the remaining children out of the property. What can we do to gain access to personal property owned by our mother, as well as property that we owned and gave to mom (such as stove, TV’s, refrigerator,etc)?

Asked on April 14, 2011 under Estate Planning, Michigan

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Well here is the problem. If your siuster owns the home in which your mother lived, your mother was a tenant or guest. She can lock whomever she chooses out of the property because it is her property, as much as it sounds morally wrong or unheard of. Now, if your mother doesn't have a will or trust that instructs what property specifically and what property types in general go to which sibling or which siblings, then your mother died intestate and generally speaking the property would need to be probated to figure out who gets what and preferably you would want to have the court choose an administrator who is not related to you or your siblings or your mother. You need a neutral party. Now, if you gave your mom items she used in your sister's home, this brings up two issues. The first issue is you gave it to your mom so unless you have documents to the contrary, those items were considered gifts and your mother was free to do with them what she pleased, including gifting them in turn to your sister. Secondly, even if she didn't gift them per se, if your mother was legally considered a tenant of the property, those items were considered part of the property (fixtures) if they could not have removed without damaging the property.


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