Tenant deceased, having problems with family members

8 Replies

My longtime tenant passed away. The tenant got married after moving in, and never officially added spouse to lease.  I never had a problem with spouse, so agreed to allow spouse to stay on month to month basis. The problem is I am getting calls from deceased adult children. Apparently they never got along with spouse and are aware that spouse was never added to lease. They are asking me to allow entry into house to take possession of deceased belongings as "spouse never bought anything in the house" and "tenant didn't have will". I have directed them to contact police but they continue to call me. I am starting to become concerned about damage of property so I am trying to tread lightly and avoid involvement.

I have many questions but the big one is...Am I missing something (legally), should the deceased family be allowed into property because spouse was never added to lease?

Hi Misty,

Do not allow them into the property. They usually need to go thru probate, but if there is not enough to open a probate and no will, all items usually go to the next of kin, which would be the husband. I have been thru this many times with just under a thousand properties I manage within the last 25 years. Never a dull moment!!!!!! 

Thanks Kim, I thought so but was sure. No I don't believe it's enough for probate. But they are getting pretty pushing about it and I want to make sure I am doing the right thing.

Originally posted by @Jon Holdman :

Regardless of the spouse being on the lease or not, the spouse is the next of kin, not the children.  End of story.

 Thanks Jon. Also they seem so bothered that I am concerned they will attempt entry (destroy property). But just gonna have to see. Thanks for the reinforcement.

Originally posted by @Misty James :

Thanks Kim, I thought so but was sure. No I don't believe it's enough for probate. But they are getting pretty pushing about it and I want to make sure I am doing the right thing.

I would essentially tell them her estate needs to go through probate.  Once that happens, if they inherit her property, only then would I potentially allow them to enter the apartment.  I would give them my e-mail address to send that probate documentation to (if they ever have it) and to no longer contact me by phone.  Then, block all their numbers.  You are doing the right and legal thing.  You don't deserve to be harassed by them! 

@Misty James

Tread carefully. What do your state laws say?  In my state, absent a will, the children inherit half and the spouse the other half.  Best check with an attorney as to the proper way to handle this, which probably wil be the probate process.  I could definitely see a possible lawsuit as so and so did not get that antique buffet that has been in the family for 200 years.

It is a shame that the death of a family member is often seen as a cash grab.

Hello @Jennifer T. It is a really good idea to give my email and block them from further phone contact. I may need to keep that tip in my back pocket for other relatable issues.

Originally posted by @David S. :

@Misty James

Tread carefully. What do your state laws say?  In my state, absent a will, the children inherit half and the spouse the other half.  Best check with an attorney as to the proper way to handle this, which probably wil be the probate process.  I could definitely see a possible lawsuit as so and so did not get that antique buffet that has been in the family for 200 years.

It is a shame that the death of a family member is often seen as a cash grab.

Hello David. I am no lawyer but from what I read in NYS the spouse is entitled to the first 50,000 then half of anything left (something like that). I just kept repeating myself. "If you think your entitled to anything contact police or file the proper paperwork and take the spouse to court". And yes death seems to bring out the worse in some folks. I just don't get it.