Resident's Death
Adams Stirling PLC
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DEATH OF A RESIDENT

QUESTION: I'm president of our association. We have a secure building and our staff has keys for all units in case of an emergency. An elderly resident recently died in her unit. It was quickly discovered and once the authorities removed her body, the unit was locked. Her son contacted us the following day and wanted into the unit. I think we should let him in but the manager said it's not a good idea. Don't we have a duty to let him in?

ANSWER: Your manager is correct. Do not let him in. The deceased may have cut her son out of her will. She may have valuable jewelry, antiques and artwork that she willed to other family members or to charity. If you let her son into the unit and he loots it, the association could be sued. You should wait for the executor of the estate to authorize entry into the unit. It is the executor's job to wind up the affairs of the deceased and distribute the estate to entitled beneficiaries.

SON AUTHORIZED

QUESTION: Regarding death of a resident, what if the son has permission from the deceased to enter the unit "any time"?

ANSWER: Once the owner dies, control shifts to the estate. As a result, prior authorizations are no longer valid. Only the estate’s executor can give new access authorizations.

CHILDREN HAVE KEYS

QUESTION: What if the children have keys? Should we change the locks?

ANSWER: No need to change the locks. If the children have keys, that's between them and the executor. It's when the association starts letting people into the unit that there's potential liability.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC