Can we use a voluntary lien against a home for loaned furniture?

Q: My father passed away recently. He married a woman a few months before he passed who, well, let’s just say, is not the most trustworthy person. He left her his home in his will that was paid for and lien free.┬áThe contents of the home were also left to her. However, each of his six children was allowed to claim one piece of favorite furniture, (i.e six pieces of furniture in total). Of course, she would prefer us to leave the furniture and in fact offered to buy it back. Realistically that’s cost prohibitive for her, even if anyone was willing. As I mentioned, she isn’t the most trustworthy person but we are willing to leave the furniture for her to use freely until her death or sale of the home. These antiques are valued at approximately $35,000-$40,000. We would like her to file a free lien against the home or have a secured debt drawn up to ensure the value is protected and that we get it back. She will likely leave the home to her daughter at which time we would want the furniture back “if she doesn’t sell it”. We simply want to secure the value in case something happens. Can we accomplish this by using the aforementioned methods for security? (Swissvale, PA)

A: You can do several things however more information is needed to appropriately advise you. If these pieces of furniture are left to the children through his will as specific gifts, I would likely advise to get them out of the house now. If you really want to leave these items in the house, you can have her sign a promissory note and confession in judgment for the value of the items. If she becomes the owner of the home (via the estate) and there are no prior judgments against her, this judgment will act as a first-in-line lien against the home. This should secure your interests better, rather than waiting to file a claim against her estate after she passes, assuming her heirs even open an estate.

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