Resident Death and What Happens After
By: Kristen Wills
When a resident dies the first thought is to immediately contact the resident’s emergency contact or family member to allow them to remove the personal property of the deceased resident. However, when a resident dies, the personal property in the home becomes the property of the deceased resident’s estate. This means, once an official representative presents a signed court order naming them as the “official representative” (administrator or executor) of the estate they may take care of the decedent’s affairs, and until then no one, including close relatives or friends can speak on behalf of the deceased resident. Additionally, the close family or friend is not entitled to remove any item of the deceased resident’s personal property unless one of them is appointed as an official representative by the County Clerk of Court.
This may seem strange, as generally, most people would like their close family and friends to take possession of their property, however, one must be assigned as official representative of an estate before you can provide them with access to the home. This may be accomplished by the relative or friend completing the Application for Letters of Administration or an Affidavit of Removal, which would then be signed by the County Clerk of Court.
If an estate has not been established, housing providers can obtain possession of the deceased resident’s home by proceeding with filing their own Affidavit of Removal. Before proceeding with the Affidavit of Removal, housing providers will need to ensure:
- That the deceased resident is the sole resident who lives alone with no occupants;
- At least 10 days have passed since the date rent was last due under the Lease;
- Rent remains unpaid; and
- No official representative has been appointed by the County Clerk of Court and no other Affidavit has been filed with the court to claim the personal property of the deceased resident.
Once the Affidavit of Removal has been processed by the County Clerk of Court, housing providers may remove the deceased resident’s property but are required to store the personal property for at least 90 days. Housing Providers are free to store the property on site in a storage unit or a storage unit within the county where the property resides. This allows housing providers to empty the home to re-rent to another potential resident.
If no one claims the property within the 90-day period, the housing provider can sell the property, subject to notice and reporting requirements. However, if an official representative appears to collect the deceased resident’s property within the 90-day storage period, the housing providers are required to allow the representative to collect the property.
This process may seem long and tedious, but without it housing providers would be stuck in legal limbo where they would have to wait for an estate to be opened or seek to open and administer an estate on their own as a creditor before they could regain possession of the rental home.