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Ask Legalease Your Own Question
Legalease
Legalease, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 16288
Experience:  15 yrs experience: Elder Law, Wills, Social Security Issues
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I own 1/3rd of my dads house and everything in it who passed

Customer Question

I own 1/3rd of my dads house and everything in it who passed away in july. My brother,who is a lawyer and executor of the estate is hesitant to give me my own key to said house. I feel that since i am one third owner of house and contents along with my sister and aforementioned brother,i am legally entitled to have access when i see fit. Some china and crystal,etc are already missing, and strangely enough,it all belonged to me so you can see why i want my own key. I live in N.C. Can u please give me some of ur legal advice and expertise please? I appreciate and await ur reply. Sincerslt, Con!ey M. Lee.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Legalease replied 10 months ago.

Hello there --

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Generally speaking you are not automatically entitled to receive a key to the property of a decedent (even as a beneficiary under the estate) unless you ask the court for such access. THe executor or administrator of the estate is the only person permitted such access and he or she can give access to others as he or she sees fit to do so. That is why only one person is generally appointed as the executor of the estate of a deceased person. So that all such decisions can be made by that executor.

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In your current situation, you are free to petition the court yourself as a beneficiary of the estate and ask the court to order the executor to give you a key also so that you may begin an inventory of items in the house as you have noticed that items are going missing. In your written Motion to the court you should write out the items missing and possible value of those items and state that you are not questioning your brothers administration of the estate but that you just believe that the property of the deceased needs to be more carefully monitored for security purposes. To make such a filing, you can go to the court and ask for a generic motion form that you can complete and ask the court for the access key to the property. You will have to serve your brother with the written motion because he must appear at court as the administrator of the estate. You may want to let your brother know that you are wiling to drop the motion if he is willing to provide a key and work with you to inventory everything that is in the house so nothing else seems to turn up missing (keep it very general -- thieves could have gotten in and taken things for all you know at this point). If there is no real reason to keep you from the house then the court should have no problems with telling your brother to grant you access and to accept the assistance in the inventory of the estate to make things move along more quickly.

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In the event that your brother has not yet started the probate process then you should make it perfectly clear that you will not sign the forms to grant him automatic administration of the estate unless he give you a key to the house and you discuss an immediate plan of inventory to get these items sorted through and to close out the estate. You have the right to withhold your consent to his appointment and to appear at any hearing on the matter if he still refuses and pushes it to the court to decide the issue.

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I truly wish I could tell you that you are automatically entitled to a key and full access to your father's property, but I cannot. There are ways for you to obtain the access that you seek and perhaps your brother might not be too keen on fighting with you over it in court.

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Please let me know if you have further questions. If not, can you please press a positive rating in the ratings section above so I will be paid for my time assisting you today. A positive rating is given by pressing the middle star or the fourth or fifth star on the right of the middle star in the five star ratings section above. Pressing a positive rating will not cost you any additional money -- it simply acts as the trigger to Just Answer to pay me for my time assisting you today. THANK YOU VERY MUCH !!

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MARY

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