During probate, can I get my belongings from decedent’s home?

Q: My aunt died without a will and left a property behind in Pennsylvania. She has only one living daughter in Florida. She hired a probate attorney who set up a trust to deal with the process because she is too busy to deal with it herself. There are many things in the house that are mine that my aunt had let me keep there for storage. I try to enter the home to retrieve them, but the trustee tells me I am not allowed on the premise. Is there a way I can be allowed inside? I am afraid that my valuable belongings will be inventoried along with my aunt’s things. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: A Trustee or Executor, has legal authority over real and personal property of a deceased person. They have a duty to preserve it and keep it in tact until it can be inventoried and accounted for and properly disbursed pursuant to the trust agreement or will. If you cannot work this out with the Trustee or Executor, you will have to hire a lawyer to file a petition in the Orphan’s Court in the county which has jurisdiction. This is likely to be where your aunt resided and died. If this property is indisputably yours, you should have no problem. If there is a question and you have no clear proof such as receipts or records, it may be difficult.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.