If my tenant died, who should I grant access to his belongings?

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If my tenant died, who should I grant access to his belongings?

My tenant suddenly died of a heart attack. He was a single guy, who has two children living with his ex-wife, an adult married son in Japan and an adult single grown up daughter. Who and under what circumstances should I grant entry to the apartment? Does the ex-wife have any rights as legal guardian of his children? Who should be allowed to move out his belongings? His emergency contact on the application is a friend.

Asked on April 18, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking, you should let only the person who is appointed as the personal representative of the estate in to the apartment.  Although it may be tempting to call the friend, it is no longer an emergency here and you have to protect yourself from claims made that you helped to dissipate estate assets by allowing those that were unauthorized to act in to the apartment.  Good luck.


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