What rights does a girlfriend have to her deceased boyfriend’s estate?

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What rights does a girlfriend have to her deceased boyfriend’s estate?

My father passed leaving a Will. He did not have much but land, a mobile home and 2 vehicles – 1 operational and 1 not. In the Will he left all property to my little brother but lifetime rights to his girlfriend and her disabled son. I asked about the mobile home in another post so I understand that me or my little brother are not responsible for that because it was in my uncles name. However, can she just stay on the land forever? If she decides to buy something else or build a house, can she? The girlfriend is currently living there and has begun to sell some of his things, isn’t that against the law since I know we will need those things to sell to close his estate?

Asked on December 14, 2018 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) If the will gave the girlfriend lifetime rights to live in the home (a "life estate"), she may live there until she dies or voluntarily moves out. She does have to pay to maintain it while there, and if she does not, those who will inherit/receive it when she does pass away or move (the "remaindermen") could sue her to force her to shoulder those costs.
2) Girlfriends inherit nothing except what is left to them in a will. If she is selling belongings not left to her, the estate (through the executor or personal representative) can sue her to get her to stop doing this and to also force her to pay to the estate the greater of what she received for those items or, if she sold them at a too-low cost, their then-current value.


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