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I have lived with & cared for my mother for the past year, & she just passed away. My sister is trying to kick me out. Now what?

Spokane, WA |

My sister was appointed administer of the estate. I left my apartment, job, and everything to care for my mother who had cancer. My sisters were NOT helping mom, and I am single (w/5 yr. old son), so I decided to end my apt. lease, quit my job, sell my furnishings, and move from Florida to care for my mom. Prior to moms death, my sisters and I had an agreement that I could stay here (fully paid/only HOA fees) for 90days following moms death. More recently, we agreed that my son and I should stay here untill the unit sold, for I am currently broke, and I have only been able to work 20hrs. a week with mom and my son needing my care. My sister acted like everything was great, untill she was appointed the power to decide, now the probate lawyer sends me a letter saying get out! What can I do?

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Attorney answers 2


First, I am a NY attorney and cannot advise you as to your state's laws. It appears from your question that your mother passed away without a will -- I say that because you used the term "administrator," rather than executor (though terminology may be different in your state as compared to NY). If there was no will, then it would appear that you, along with your sisters, will be sharing in the estate and thus you would be a co-owner of the real property, which would give you certain rights.

If, in fact, there was an agreement that you could remain in the unit until it sold, I would expect that that would ben enforceable. That would be even more so if you relied on that agreement. You would do well to consult with a local attorney, who also may be able to negotiate an acceptable resolution of the situation.

Your sister may or may not have a viable reason for wanting the unit vacant. Vacant units usually show better. On the other hand, units that are lived in are often more likely to garner a higher price, and you might be able to appeal to your sister on that basis.

Unfortunately, quite often family members are at each other's throats in estate proceedings. Family members are someties pitted against one another, and it wold be best, of course, if family members would unite in a time of sorrow, rather than become involved in contentious issues with one another.

One other thing that you might think about -- there may possibly be a basis for you to make a claim against the estate for the care you provided to your mother, particularly if you made certain sacrifies (as outlined in your posting).

Good luck to you.

Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as rendering legal advice involves the ability of the attorney to ask appropriate questions of the person seeking such advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement. The purpose of this answer is to provide the questioner with general information, not to outline specific legal rights and remedies.


First off, please accept my condolences on your recent loss of your mother. Apparently your sister isn't being particularly kind, and that doesn't help. Start with Richard Wills' excellent website called Washington Probate Litigation. That can answer a lot of your questions.

Were either of your agreements with your sister in writing? if yes, save them. Emails back and forth can qualify as a writing.

Here is the thing: this isn't a tenancy that can be terminated through an unlawful detainer, it sounds like it was pursuant to an agreement to live there and care for your mother, which is called a tenancy at will. Tenancies at will are not terminable as an unlawful detainer. No matter what the probate attorney says. There are attorneys who think this means they can throw you out with no judicial process whatsoever, but there are attorneys who vehemently disagree with that outcome.

The Gonzaga Law School has a housing clinic and they may be able to help you. If you qualify you could contact NWJustice, or even the Spokane County Bar to see if you could meet with an attorney who understands housing law and probate.

Also if there is a probate open, you could, as a beneficiary, invoke the TEDRA rule and get the parties to mediation to work out a solution that does not result in you and your child being on the street.

So the first thing to do is to take a deep cleansing breath, and look for Mr. Wills' website. Tomorrow first thing, see what you can do to get a consult with a local attorney who has these skill sets. Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell

Using Avvo does not form an attorney client relationship.

James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick


Outstanding response!