I am so sorry to learn of your loss, and terribly sorry to learn of the way that your residence was treated.Legally, the property should not have been invaded the way it was (regardless as to how it was owned), but depending on the way it was owned, your rights are slightly different.Here are the different basic scenarios:The property was owned by your partner: you would be considered an "occupant" and you would have been entitled to "notice" by the estate and while you are not entitled to remain in the unit, you are given a period of time to remain (30 days in most states, 60 days in California) prior to the estate being entitled to file for an "unlawful detainer" to force you to leave. Because the estate did not do this, you are entitled to sue the estate for "illegal eviction" "trespass" and "damage to personal property ("chattels")" in small claims
court.The property was leased by you and/or your partner: This follows roughly the same rule as above, and you would have the same rights as I noted above.The property was owned jointly by you and your partner. In this case, you can sue for trespass, and damage to chattel, as well as "quiet title
"I am not sure what the police did for you when you reported this, some departments treat this as a "civil matter" and refer you to small claims court to file a civil action
for these disputes, while others treat it as a criminal matter and will actually pursue criminal charges (you can also call your County Prosecutor (District Attorney)).The estate now owes you - and the specific individuals that actually came and did this to you are responsible for the intentional torts
of trespass and damage to personal property (these are intentional torts, so in additional to compensatory damages (the cost of replacing your personal property), the court can also award you "punitive damages
" (additional monetary damages to punish intentional bad conduct).Short of filing a lawsuit, you can try to mediate the dispute with them - contact your local bar association and request referrals to mediators, a third party neutral can often help you reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Use the bar association's referrals to contact a mediator or two, the mediator will then contact the other party to set up a mediation session, and you can go from there - hopefully resulting in a formal or written settlement agreement
, and save yourself the time and expense of litigation
.Again, I am terribly sorry to learn of this situation, and I do hope that you can get a swift and positive resolution to this terribly unfortunate matter.