Q: If you are living with someone who passes away, can your belongings be taken by their family members?
I am 19 years old. I'm currently living with my 60 year old mother who has stage 4 cancer. I have a 45 year old brother but he is a drug addict and has not come around since the cancer. I'm pretty much my mothers live in maid. I have been trying to organize my mother's affairs for after her death. She says she wants to leave everything to me. I wrote a draft of her will but she doesn't want it because it states that she doesn't want to leave anything to my brother or his heir. She doesn't understand that simply telling me she wants me to have her stuff will not matter to anyone else after she has passed. She rents a house and i am not on the lease. I am concerned that if she passes my brother or his kids will be able to come and take not only her things but also my personal belongings since they are in her home.
A: They can't LEGALLY take your things, but whoever is appointed executor of your mother's estate will have the right and obligation to marshall (gather up and safeguard) her real and personal property. If you are appointed executor, then you are safe. If someone else is appointed executor, then you are at risk if he or she is a kleptomaniac or just plain greedy. After your mother passes, you should proactively hire a probate attorney to assist you.
In the meantime, your mother should discuss her wishes with an estate planning attorney, who can explain to her just what you said (that stating her wishes out loud is not good enough) and draw up a will for her that is exactly what your mother wants. YOU should not be involved in this process. Whatever will results from your influence would very likely, right or wrong, be subject to challenge on the grounds of undue influence.
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