Do I have squatter’s rights regarding a property that I have ben living at and taking care of?

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Do I have squatter’s rights regarding a property that I have ben living at and taking care of?

I have a good friend who is in the hospital and is about to pass. He owns a house outright with no mortgage and is not married. He has no siblings or living parents, so no immediate family. He has been in the hospital for 4 years due to a stroke and has allowed me to live on the property for free this whole time as a caretaker. He has no Will but he has told me that he would like me to have the house if he dies. Right now he is incapacitated, so is unable to make a Will or sign anything. What would I have to do to continue living there and eventually own the house? FYI, he has $10,000 in back taxes due but I have started paying back taxes on the property.

Asked on July 5, 2019 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

There is no such thing as "squatter's rights" in terms of getting ownershp of property; there is something called adverse possession which can sometimes allow someone to take ownership of property but it does not apply here, because as the term "adverse possession" implies, your possession (e.g. occupancy) of the property must adverse or againt/opposed to the owner's interests and without his permission. Someone given permission to live somewhere, as you have been allowed to live there, cannot take property by adverse permission since your occupancy was consent to or allowed, not adverse.
Your friend's wishes are irrelevant since they were not expressed in a will: only a properly executed written will controls what happens to property after death.
You do not indicate that you are married to or related to your friend, so you will have no inheritance rights: friendship conveys no inheritance rights. Friends only inherit if there is a will naming them.
Living in a place, maintaining it, even paying taxes on it does NOT give you any right to the property--you may wish to stop paying the taxes, since the taxes you are paying will not get you anything but only help whomever inherits the property, which will not be you--it will be some family member, possibly even an estranged or distant one; or if no family at all, it goes to the state.
Without a will or your friend being able to transfer (e.g. quitclaim) the property to you now, there is no scenario that results in you getting the property: friends simply don't inherit or otherwise get property they were allowed to live in unless there was a will.


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