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Removing Personal Property

A common reaction when someone dies is to remove personal property, such as household goods, furniture, furnishings, sporting equipment, vehicles and the like from the decedent’s home and other real property. However, more likely than not, doing so will result in you having to explain your actions to a judge who may still hold you personally accountable.

Unless you are 100% certain you are the sole heir (note: you cannot be 100% certain that you are the sole heir), do not remove anything from a home or any real property such as a second residence unless it is already in the garbage or rotting in a refrigerator or freezer. If probate has to be opened, you may not be able justify your actions of removing items, even if you had good intentions, to a judge. Furthermore, sometimes actions cannot be justified (i.e., decedent wanted me to have our parents’ jewelry).

Oftentimes, people remove items from the home because they want to start the grieving process and distributing the items is one less thing that they have to worry about later on. While it is understandable from a psychological standpoint removing and distributing items from a legal standpoint it is not advisable.

If probate has to be opened, the only person who has authority to remove items from the home – and depending on the type of probate proceeding you may need a court order – is the personal representative. Furthermore, the personal representative may not act until the personal representative has been appointed by the court and has received letters (note: letters from the court are the legal document that gives the personal representative the authority to act on behalf of the estate).

Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP represents individuals in uncontested probate proceedings.

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Spangler and de Stefano, PLLP and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.