Does lifetime use of a house also apply to the contents as well?
Question Details: Stepmother was given lifetime use of deceased father's house. This house was bought and paid for by my parents, before my mother died. He remarried and recently passed. The contents are mostly my parents, with some of my stepmother's things mixed in. She has stated that we are not allowed in the home and have no claim on anything in the house. She has already given away some furniture that was my mother's. Do we have any rights? We are beneficiaries of the house after her use.
No, use of a home does NOT convey use--or ownership, as she seems to be asserting--over the possessions or belongings in the house, other than things built into the home which become part of it (e.g. a gas stove insert installed in a fireplace) or fixtures. Use of the house is use of the house only. The non-fixture possessions would have been inherited or distributed as the will more generally provided for the distribution of personal property. If she has been violating the terms of the will, you could sue her for the value of what she has improperly disposed of or taken. And if you can't see a copy of the will to confirm its terms, as your father's childrens and thus presumably beneficiaries or heirs, you could bring a legal action against her to not just enforce the will but to, in the course of the lawsuit, get a copy of the will.
Such a lawsuit is considerably more complex than, say, a small claims case; your are strongly encouraged to retain an attorney to help you.