How do I get possession of my late uncle’s real estate?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How do I get possession of my late uncle’s real estate?

He passed away last Friday and left a house and bank account. He had given power of attorney to a friend and now the friend thinks he owns everything.

Asked on June 6, 2019 under Estate Planning, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

A power of attorney ends when the person granting it passes away; the friend's POA is now void. If there is a will, then your uncle's "estate" (what he left behind) goes to whomever he willed it to. If there is no will, then if your uncle was married (even is separated or estranged) when he died or had children or grandchildren, his estate goes to his spouse and/or descendents. If no spouse or descendents, it does to his parents, if they are alive. If no living parents, to his siblings; only if none of the above, would it go to you and any other neices or nephews.
If you are eligible to inherit, his estate must go through probate to be transferred to you. The first step would be applying to the probate court in the county where he lived to be appointed the "personal representative" or "adminstrator" of his estate (essentially, the executor when there is no will). That will give you the legal authority over his estate, to put it through probate, to remove the friend from the home and cut off his access, and if necessary, sue the friend for anything he took from the estate. 
As stated, the POA lapsed when your uncle passed away; unless your uncle willed his estate to the friend, the friend does not inherit.

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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