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What are the families rights, when a single family member dies and there are Squatters in there house?

Bremerton, WA |

My brother committed suicide under suspicious circumstances and the people he allowed to stay in his house, sold most of his belongings before the family could get to his house. We were also told that we could not go into the house without permission. This house has been in our family since 1970. It was owned by our grandmother. Now it has been 2 months since he died and we were told we could not remove his vehicles and they have now been sold by one of the people we are trying to get out of the house. We have called the police and they are not doing anything to help.

Attorney Answers 6


I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Please locate and retain a nearby estate/probate attorney who can get the probate up and running, and get the persons in the house out of there. The Estate now owns the house, and it has to go through probate so that the title to the house can be formally transferred to the new owner (the heirs). It doesn't matter whether he left a will or not, this still has to happen, and the sooner your family gets started the sooner this will be over.

If someone who does not have title to a vehicle purports to sell that vehicle, the estate should report that it is stolen.

The police cannot help you with the probate issues. I know this was not what you wanted to hear, but there it is. Elizabeth Powell

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I am also sorry for your loss. I agree with Attorney Powell. It is important to meet with a knowledgeable probate attorney to initiate probate proceedings so that a court appointed Administrator of Personal Representative can take the steps necessary to secure your brother's assets and deal with the occupants of the real property. The probate is necessary to transfer the title to the real property.

The Estate will need to deal with the real property, including determining if the occupants have any rights under a rental agreement, and considering the Estate's options for ejecting the occupants from the premises, in addition to securing your brother's belongings. Once the Estate is opened and the court appoints a representative to act on behalf of the Estate, that representative can contact the police to file a complaint regarding the actions of the occupants for the potential theft or conversion of your brother's assets. Attorney Powell is correct, that the police cannot assist with the probate issues, but the Estate's legal representative can seek assistance from the police to enforce the Estate's rights to safeguard and manage the possessions. Good luck to you.

The above response is commentary regarding a general legal question. It is not intended to be legal advice specific to the reader's individual situation nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between the author and any reader. You are encouraged to contact a qualified and knowledgeable attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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I agree with both previous answers and the estate needs administration soon. Find a probate attorney who can help.
Good Luck

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I am sorry for your loss. You need to file for probate. If you brother had a Will, that will control. If not, then intestacy. You need to apply for special letters to get authorization to act immediately. Contact a probate attorney without further delay.

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You need to do an eviction or ejectment action ASAP. It may also be
advisable to, as a part of that action, obtain an emergency restraining
order to preserve the property pending the outcome of the action.

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Nathan Sukhia

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Please accept my condolences on your loss. As noted by others a probate will have to be started. Only the Personal Representative appointed by the court will have the right to bring any action to evict the "squatters" and take other action to collect and distribute estate assets. You or another family member can apply to be appointed personal representative. You should contact an attorney in your area or the area where your brother lived, who handles probate matters. That attorney can draft and file the appropriate papers to have someone appointed as personal representative and have "Letters of Administration" issued, which is the document the police and others will need to see before taking action.

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