Is it legal for assumed heirs to enter a residence to remove personal property from the deceased residence within 30 days?

Asked over 1 year ago - Torrance, CA

A good friend of mine finace died last Fridayin his sleep. Now the wedding has been anounces and was set to happen later this month. She noified the 2 daughter and the imediately drove 100 miles to the deceased residence. The immediadelty removed several laptops one was the fiancee's and his cell phone and some other stuff. The police were called and they were allowed remove the property & left. Monday they called and told the fiancee they were coming on Friday to remove 2 end-high TVs, a car,trailer& other possessions of his.The fincee has not seen this will so she called an atty who advised not to let them in. Fri.they came and the same police rolled out &allowed them to remove the property just by showing an alleged will and no ID! Is this legal? 2nd will was found and was ignored

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Joseph Bernard Mchugh Jr


    Contributor Level 12


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This is difficult to answer without more information. Since the property was the personal property of the decedent (except for the laptop of the fiancee), most likely his legal heirs do have a right to it. However, if there was a 2nd Will that named the fiancee as the beneficiary of any of the decedent's estate, then those assets can be gotten back. The police did not have the authority to allow the heirs to enter into the home to remove the assets, their role would only to have been to keep the peace. They do not make legal decisions on the validity of a Will. If the heirs took anything of the fiancee's, they can be sued for conversion, perhaps in small claims court. I would need to know what was in the 2nd Will, and if it mentioned anything about how he wanted his estate distributed. I agree with the attorney that the fiancee should not have left them in. The police were bluffing if they implied they had the authority to all the heirs to remove any assets. There would need to have been a court order for the police to enforce.

  2. Eric Jerome Gold


    Contributor Level 19


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . If your friend called an attorney and is represented in this matter, then your friend should be asking these questions to her lawyer. If she is not represented, the general rule is that until an executor is appointed by the court, no one has the legal authority to handle the decedent's property. In reality, that is not always practical. As for the police actions, they are certainly suspect, based on the facts, as presented. This scenario requires an in depth review between the fiancé and a probate attorney.

    When responding to questions posted on Avvo, I provide a general purpose response based on California law as I am... more
  3. Richard Scott Stewart

    Contributor Level 12

    Answered . She did not have to turn over the property. Your friend should consult with a probate attorney and discuss her options, including opening a probate herself and asking to be the executor of the estate.

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