If my stepdad lived in our house under a life estate,now that he’s deceased, what right does his family have to enter the home?

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If my stepdad lived in our house under a life estate,now that he’s deceased, what right does his family have to enter the home?

Does his family have the right to the keys to let themselves into the home while the estate is being processed?

Asked on January 15, 2012 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  I can tell from the way that you have phrased this question that there is some tension here on this matter.  I am assuming here that your Mother owned the house and granted her husband a life estate probably through her Will, correct?  And in the Will it also named the "residual benficiaries" of the property, correct?  Well technically they own the property now.  Depending on how things were done when your Mother passed away - did you file a deed with the life estate listed? - you may or may not have to do anything at this juncture.  Now, his family has a right to his belongings - they are part of his estate - but they should not just be entering the house with out permission.  remember though that they just lost their parent too.  Try and discuss the matter with them calmly before you change the locks.  Good luck.


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