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Estate is now in probate - should I remove any belongings from the home?

My mother recently passed away, I am the sole surviving beneficiary in addition to being named the executor and administrator of the estate in the will.

While the estate has been submitted to probate, should I refrain from removing any belongings from the home?

My nephew had resided at the house until last year, and he is demanding access in order to remove items that he claims are his own property. While I am not against providing him access, I am concerned that the removal of anything may potentially be in violation of the probate process.

Your input is greatly appreciated.

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Submitted Mon, 12/21/2009 - 14:20

The probate process only controls the decedent's probate assets. Assets which did not belong to the decedent can be returned to the rightful owner. You can supervise the process to make sure that there is no confusion or disputes as to the ownership of the assets. The only people who could possibly object would be the creditors of the estate and the beneficiaries under the Will. If you are correct in your statement that you are the only beneficiary, then you should not have any concerns (because creditors - if any - do not generally get too execited about used furniture and the like). As an aside, you do want to secure the property and the contents. If other beneficiaries surface (such as an illigitimate child or a "pretermitted child") or if there are creditor issues, they can hold you, as executor, responsible for any missing assets.
Attorney Peter Bernardin

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