Adverse possession

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Adverse possession

My roommate, who owned our house outright passed away intestate and has no living relatives. I had a power of attorney, but he passed away before he did a will. I would like to keep the house as he wished. What are my options?
I have kept up the property and have been working on the house. I live on my Social security, just 934 a month. As it stands now I can’t get help from SNAP to fix the roof, get help with power bills, if necessary, or any other assistance. What can I do?

Asked on October 6, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Based on what you write, you have no right to the house.
1) A POA lapses or ends when the person granting it dies. It has no more effect.
2) Only a properly signed or witnessed will determines what happens to property after someone dies or can leave property to a non-relative. (Relatives can inherit without a will; non-relatives cannot.)
3) Having lived in someone else house for years gives you no right to it; you also get no right to it from having paid bills or done work on the house.
4) You were allowed to live there; by definition, living somewhere with the owner's permission is not "adverse," or essentially "hostile," possession.
Nothing in your question, unfortunately, shows any right for you to inherit the house or get title to it. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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