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Resident with no known family dies by Anonymous on December 6, 2010 @16:44

                              
Quick question. A resident who has lived in the apt for 30 yrs with no known family dies. I have tried to locate any family with no luck. Lady was 85 yrs. old from Mexico. I know she has 2 sons in Mexico (she mentioned them once to me) but I dont know their location or if they are still living. I have been working here 6 yrs and I have never seen anyone visit her. Maint has been here 10 and also has never seen anyone visit her. Neighbors who have lived here the same amount of time also have never seen anyone visit her. She kept her family private. I have 1 emergency contact and the woman says she does not want to have anything to do with this and to never call her again. All of a sudden "friends" of hers show up and want access to apt. which I wont allow. My question is how long do I store her stuff before I discard, sell, or give away. Can I use some of it (after a reasonable amount of time) to pay for storage fees, cleaning fees, movers fees. She lived a simple life nothing much of value as far the furniture, clothing, but I did find a large chest with money, jewlery, old coin collection, her birth certificate from Mexico old post cards (blank) other paper work . I have not removed anything from her apt. but I am afraid that these "friends" know she is not there, and they will try to break in and steal these valuables (I have been taking care of her for 2 years bringing her food, drinks, minor cleaning. These people all of a sudden showed up when she passed they are suppossedly old friends of the family but no one knows the family's location or anything and I have never seen them). I want to store them in my safe until next of kin comes forward but I dont know if I should. What do I do?
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Re: Resident with no known family dies by Just suggesting on December 6, 2010 @17:15 [ Reply ]
Not sure what state you are in, but you'd have to do your due diligence. Trust your gut instinct about the probability that these "friends" will try to break in and steal her valuables etc. Is there a local attorney you could call? Perhaps they'd give you info about what to do, over the phone or as part of a free 30-min consultation.

I found this online and it may be helpful for general purposes although it references CONNECTICUT laws:
DEATH OF TENANT - Process
This is an excerpt taken from a web site written by a local attorney, and refers to Connecticut Law on the responsibilities of the Landlord when a tenant dies in his property.

To begin, when a Tenant dies, the Landlord Must send a notice to the Tenant’s next of kin, if known. The notice must be sent by both regular and certified mail and must advise the recipient
(1) that the Tenant has died;
(2) the Landlord intends to remove the deceased Tenant’s personal effects and possession and to re-rent the premises; and
(3) if the next of kin does not reclaim the possession and personal effects of the deceased Tenant within sixty days after the date of the notice, the possessions and personal effects will be disposed of as permitted by law. The notice should be simple, clear and concise and must contain contact information (i.e. mailing address and telephone number) of the Landlord. See, Conn. Gen. Stat. §47a-11d(a).

Once the Landlord has sent the notice or, if the Landlord DOES NOT KNOW of any next of kin (or can't verify the folks who came out of the woodwork are even next of kin or any kind of kin at atll), the Landlord must file an affidavit with the local probate court.

This affidavit shall include the name and address of the deceased Tenant, the date of death, the terms of the lease (if it is a written lease, simply attach a copy of the lease to the affidavit) and the names and addresses of the next of kin, if known. Conn. Gen. Stat. §47a-11d(b). Attach a copy of the notice referenced above, if such a notice was sent.

The Landlord is now in a holding pattern for thirty days after the filing of the affidavit and should begin preparing a detailed inventory of the possessions and personal effects remaining in the premises.

On or after the thirty days, if there has been no reply to the notice or communication from next of kin, the Landlord must file the inventory with the probate court.

Fifteen days after filing the inventory, again, there having been no communication from next of kin, the Landlord may remove the possessions and personal effects; however, the items must then be stored for an additional fifteen days. Finally, after the additional fifteen days has elapsed, the Landlord can have the possessions and personal effects disposed of by a State Marshal in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. §47a-42. Conn.Gen. Stat. §47a-11d(d).

It must be noted that once a notice has been sent and/or the affidavit has been filed with the probate court, a Landlord is relieved of the obligation of filing a Notice to Quit and bringing an eviction proceeding to obtain possession of the premises. Conn.Gen.Stat. §47a-11d (c).

If, however, the Landlord is contacted by a relative or other next of kin, or a letter of administration or will is filed with the Probate Court, the procedures referenced herein cease and the Landlord will have to seek possession through the Probate Court. --68.229.70.77

I found more info on p. 307-308 of a google books Every Landlord's Legal Guide--on that page is Who Gets the Tenant's Property... http://books.google.com/books?id=WVxcxsQkyK4C&pg=PA307&lpg=PA307&dq=tenant+dies+no+next+of+kin&source=bl&ots=06fqxcKGmN&sig=h4_0B-WCp5ri7u7-SrIv_vNasd0&hl=en&ei=9lz9TO-gBIe-sQO9_KyyBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CDUQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=tenant%20dies%20no%20next%20of%20kin&f=false

If that long webaddy doesn't work, google "tenant dies no next of kin" and then click on the link that will say Every Landlord's Legal Guide Google Book Result, which should be the seventh link below the search box.

Re: Resident with no known family dies by Eric (MN) on December 6, 2010 @17:24 [ Reply ]
You state will have a law about abandoned property. You normally have to hold it for ~30 days. The renter gets back any overage from damages and selling expenses.

Even if they are dead, you can still keep the lease notice period in rent. So, that month they died, and the next month at a minimum.

Re: Resident with no known family dies by Jake on December 6, 2010 @17:35 [ Reply ]
Keep the place closed for 30 days. Do not allow anyone access to it...especially the "friends." After 30 days, call Goodwill to pick up the furniture if it is still usable. Take plenty of photos of everything. After 30 years, any kind of a deposit will not cover the cost of rehabing the apartment, making repairs and the like. So, keep the box of valuables as payment for these expenses and for the tenant's maintenance you provided for the past two years. Keep a tight lip about the box. Do not hand it over to the "friends." You were the only friend the tenant had.
Re: Resident with no known family dies by Anonymous on December 6, 2010 @20:01 [ Reply ]
If you have her birth certificate you may be able to find a relative with the info. Just a thought!
Re: Resident with no known family dies by Anonymous on December 7, 2010 @09:24 [ Reply ]
I appreciate all who responded. I will try with the Mexican consulate to see if they can help me locate next of kin. I wanted to send a letter to an address I found yesterday in her apt with her son's name but its from 1989 and I dont know if he is still living there. I was told with the situation in Mexico right now the letter probably wont even arrive there. Thank you all again and God bless!
Re: Resident with no known family dies by Bryan (Ia) on December 7, 2010 @10:01 [ Reply ]
I agree with going to the Clerk of Court and filing with the probate court. If she died intestate or with a will makes no difference, the court will appoint the executor of the estate. I would not let anybody claim anything unless they have the appointment letter from the court (you keep a copy). Also by filing you will have a claim against the estate for storage, rent, etc.
Re: Resident with no known family dies by OK-LL on December 7, 2010 @11:19 [ Reply ]
If your state has no specific laws related to death of a tenant, personally I would move everything to storage (my garage, or somewhere else cheap and secure) and send a notice of abandonment. I would then wait the abandonment period (usually 30-60 days, state-specific) and then liquidate the belongings to pay for the amounts due and storage costs. I would not leave her things in my rental because the "friends" are likely to feel entitled to break in if you aren't giving them access. They have no right to enter and you are correct in keeping them out. Good luck.
Re: Resident with no known family dies by Anonymous on December 8, 2010 @16:14 [ Reply ]
Thank you everyone for their input. God Bless!

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