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Let’s say that a minor child, who is very close to the age of majority, inherits a house in which that minor child had lived with only one of their parents, until that parent’s death.

Now let’s say that the surviving parent was estranged from the deceased parent and did not live in that house before the other parent’s death. Let’s also imagine that, according to public records, the surviving parent had signed a quit claim on the house, and is not on the new mortgage.

To make this more interesting, now let’s imagine that, since the death of the parent, the minor child has not lived in the house they inherited; however, the surviving parent is now living in that house.

As a final twist, let’s say that the surviving parent (who is now living in the house inherited by the minor child) is neither the guardian nor the conservator of the minor child.

In a hypothetical scenario like this, would it be legal for the surviving parent to sell any of the contents of the house that the minor child inherited, without the minor child’s consent?

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    The house is an easy question: No. The contents of the house is a trickier question.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 9, 2023 at 20:52
  • Who is on the new mortgage? The child? Jun 10, 2023 at 7:37
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    How is the parent living in the house? Did they break in? Jun 10, 2023 at 9:52
  • Assuming the surviving parent lived there legally, he or she would be a tenant of the deceased parent, right? Even if the lease was never written down, even if the rent is zero or 'in exchange for maintenance services on the property'. Finding out what furniture belongs to a landlord and what belongs to the tenant can be tricky if nothing is in writing.
    – o.m.
    Jun 11, 2023 at 4:35
  • @ComicSansStrikephim Good questions! The now-deceased parent (prior to their death, lol) got a new mortgage in their own name (iow, so they were the sole owner), after the parent who is now still alive signed a quit claim for the property. Since the minor child inherited the property, I don’t know whose name is on the mortgage now. The surviving parent claims they need to file court papers to transfer the house to the minor child, but has not done so in the several months they’ve had to do it. The surviving parent claims to still have their key from when they used to live there.
    – Bystander
    Jun 13, 2023 at 16:32

1 Answer 1

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Parents do not have the right to their child's property. See this question.

The parent cannot sell the house as they don't own it. The minor does- there is no law that says they cannot own real estate. There are limits on what minors can and can't do with it but this simply means that the legal guardian would be involved in selling it.

Even if the parent was the legal guardian they would be selling it on behalf of the child. Depending on the age of the child this would involve either their consent or this being in their best interests.

The contents are more complicated. In theory, if they were also inherited by the child, no. In practice it would be difficult to prove ownership. The most reliable way to prevent this would be taking physical possession of any important items by removing either the item or the parent from the house.

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  • Does the last line of your answer mean that it is illegal for the surviving parent to be living there?
    – Bystander
    Jun 13, 2023 at 16:58
  • @Bystander There's nothing giving them the inherent right to in this scenario. The owner could of course allow them to or rent it to them (with the legal guardian as part of the contract) Jun 13, 2023 at 20:08

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