What are the legal rights for a 3-way split inheritance?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are the legal rights for a 3-way split inheritance?

My grandparents recently pssed and my mother and her 2 siblings have inherited all their assets in a 3-way split owner ship. Everything is legally in all 3 of their names. However earlier this week my aunt changed the locks on the house and now only she can get inside. Is this illegal and, if so, what are the options to fix it?

Asked on June 3, 2016 under Estate Planning, Montana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It is completely illegal: all owners of a property have equal right to access, use, possess, etc. the property, and no one owner can exclude the other two owners. The response to this is to bring a legal action seeking a court order directing that your aunt let everyone else back in and further directing that she may not do this again. Once you have the order, it will be enforced by municipal police or county sheriff (whoever has jurisdiction where the home is located). The order can be sought on an "emergent" (think: urgent or emergency) basis, to get the order in a week or two, not months. It is advisable to retain an attorney to do this: seeking this sort of court order, especially on an emergent basis, is procedurally complex--more more difficult, for example, than suing someone in small claims over an unpaid bill or nonreturned security deposit.

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