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My landlady died and her estate is in probate. Is there a thing as squatters rights if the proprty? If there was not a will? And

Petaluma, CA |

She has a son who won't give me more information other than to ask for payment to be made to him now. Is that legal even though we have no lease?

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Attorney answers 3


If you are a tenant - even if you don't have a lease, you cannot be forced to leave without notice. Whether you're entitled to 30 days' notice or 60 days' notice depends on certain factors such as the length of time you've resided in the property (that question would best be answered by a real estate lawyer familiar with eviction or "unlawful detainer" proceedings). Having a lease or not having a lease does not affect your rights to receive notice.

You say your landlady did not have a will and that her estate is in probate. Assuming that someone has already been appointed by the Court (probably her son) as the "executor" or the "administrator, then that person does have the legal right to collect the rent (although I would strongly suggest that you make your rent checks out to the "ESTATE OF [Landlady's Name]". I absolutely would NOT make the rent checks out to the name of the son personally - he does NOT have any right to those checks until a court confirms that he's entitled to receive the estate.

I would also suggest something else: there is a form called a "Request for Special Notice" that can be filed in a probate proceeding. You can find a copy of the form here:

If you fill this form out and send an original signature copy to the Court and a signed photocopy to the executor/administrator, you will be entitled to receive information regarding the progress of the probate proceeding. You will need to know the case number, but you may be able to find it online here:

You can search for "recently filed cases" under the probate heading by inserting your landlady's last name and then hitting "search".

That will give you the case number and also the name of the law firm helping the executor/administrator with the probate.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.


No,, there is no such thing as squatters rights if you are a tenant. If there was no will, the landlady's estate will have to go through probate.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.



Do we still pay the rent and to whom do we issue the check? Were on such a tight budget and unsure about if when or how they will ask us to leave and we have a child w special needs. What trouble would we be in, if we stopped paying rent in order to save up for security deposit & moving expenses?



Also wanted to say THANK YOU for the replys!

Janet Lee Brewer

Janet Lee Brewer


I don't believe any lawyer is going to counsel you to stop paying a valid legal obligation. Furthermore, if you stop paying rent, the landlord (the estate for now) can sue you for nonpayment and perhaps ruin your credit rating. See a real estate lawyer who knows unlawful detainer (eviction) law. I'm sure the Sonoma County Bar Association has a lawyer referral service. You should be able to speak to a lawyer for less than $50.



We do have a lease and still have time left on it before it expires. We just have never been this tight financially and in this exact situation so we are trying to be prepared for worst case scenario. I just kept telling my husband not to make check out to her son yet and he didnt listen to me. Next time i will be sure he makes it to the estate of.... and THANK YOU AGAIN FOR HELPING WITH ALL OF YOUR SUPOORT AND SUGGESTIONS!



IM also in middle of a situation with regards to violations of my sons IEP plan at his school and probably will post a question about this in a fresh comment but Whats the best way to find an attorney for children in special education. Through this site i'm guessing but any other suggestions as well would be appreciated, Thanks again!


I agree with Mr. Chen. Also, since you have no written lease you can be asked to leave. You should think ahead here and find a new place immediately. Have that place set up and then ask if the executor (son) will enter into a lease. If he says no you are covered with the new place you found.

Hope this helps.

Please remember to designate a best answer to your question.

Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is , his website for more tax, estate and business articles is and his blog is

LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is , his website is and his blog is <> Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

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