Can my sister change the locks and refuse us to enter my Mother’s house.

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can my sister change the locks and refuse us to enter my Mother’s house.

My mother recently got put in a retirement home. She has a will where all her
assets and home are divided equally among the 4 of us. My sister is power of
attorney. Out of the blue, she changed the locks on my mother’s house and will
not let us in? Can she do this legally? If not, what steps do I take to remedy

Asked on March 8, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If your sister is the attorney-in-fact (had power from a POA), then if you were not living in your mother's home, she can do this, because she has the same right as your mother would have had to have not let other people (even children) into her home--note that until she passes, the will is irrelevant, because wills only control what happens to assets and property after death, and are ineffective while the person lives.
If you were living in your mother's home, she can put you out--the same as your mother could have told you to stop living in her home--but cannot due so by simply changing the locks; to put out a person living in a home with permission, you have to file an "ejectment" action in court and have the court and court officers do this. (If you were living there *and* paying rent, however, you were tenants, and could only be evicted for nonpayment, breaching a lease or similar good cause (such as damaging the property or being disorderly), or when the lease expires, on notice).

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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