Landlord locked deceased mothers belongings?

My mom passed away a week ago, she rented her home and her landlord called me today to tell me he changed the locks until I can show Power of Attorney or executors papers? I am an only child, my mom didn’t have any money or accounts just her personal belongings. From what I’ve read since she’s already deceased I can’t get POA so what exactly do I need to do to obtain her things, all the family photos, my daughters toys, furniture, videos, everything. I’m assuming I will only have to the end of the month since she already paid this months rent so I dont know how long of a process this will be. I am hoping to get this done asap because I have never trusted her landlord and I know he has been there at least twice since her passing on his own besides changing the locks.

Posted in Landlord Tenant Law.


  1. He has no right to prevent you from collecting your late mother’s property but he is responsible for ensuring only those with the legal right to do so can enter the place. Secondly, retain a lawyer – you will need an impartial witness when you enter the apartment to inventory her things. That inventory should take place immediately so that you have documentation of what’s there in case some of it “accidentally” should turn up missing.
    It will take more than one visit to the apartment to get this settled. Don’t whine that you can’t afford a lawyer. If you don’t do it legally, the landlord can petition the court to grant him permission to dispose of the apartment contents any way he sees fit – and you won’t get a penny of the proceeds.

  2. I don’t know what state you are in. But, most states have free legal attorney’s CALL Them ASAP.

  3. You need to go to the surrogate court and get made administrator of the estate. The landlord does not have to allow you to remove anything from the apartment, you didn’t live there.

  4. You need to be named the executor of her estate. If you are the only child and/or nobody contests this, you should be able to do this very quickly.

    Your landlord might be coming across as an insensitive a$$, but to be honest with you this is what I would have advised him to do. (Landlords can get themselves into trouble by allowing people into a decedent’s residence with the person isn’t POA or the executor.)

    Can you afford to spend $500 or so? If you can, it would be well worth it for you to hire an attorney who specializes in wills and trusts for the purpose of having you named executor and/or to help you get the necessary paperwork to let you gain access into your mother’s apartment.

    If you can’t afford to do this, go to the clerk’s office of your local superior court. They can’t give you legal advice but they should be able to direct you to the paperwork you will need to file.

    I’m sorry for you loss.

  5. You need to arrange a visit to the local estates division of your local Clerk of Superior Court or Judge of Probate’s Office. The Clerk, or Judge of Probate, can determine if you qualify you as the representative of your mother’s estate pursuant to your State’s laws, and issue you letters testamentary or other documents authorizing your entrance into your mother’s apartment.

    You will likely need to bring a certified copy of your mother’s death certificate with you.

    The Clerk can also issue an order to the landlord permitting you to enter the apartment if this proves necessary.

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