What rights do I have as a property owner to remove occupants living there with no lease?
Question Details: My grandmother owned a house. She became ill and my mother moved in to help her. When my grandmother became too ill for my mother to care for her, she was moved to a facility and my mother was given the house. My grandmother passed and my mother remarried. Now, she has passed without a Will and her husband as well without a Will. While living, they had allowed friends to move in. They are still living there and family possessions have gone missing. There is no lease but utilities are in the friends' names. What legal rights do myself and family have to get them out and prevent other things from going missing?
Assuming you can prove that you are now the owner (e.g. that title was transferred to your name after your mother passed) you can bring a kind of legal action traditionally called "an action for ejectment." You can think of this as "eviction for nontenants." Anyone who lives in a home but is not a rent payng tenant and not an owner is a guest; a guest (including a guest of previous or prior owners) can be asked to leave at any time--they have no right to reside or remain there once the current owner wants them gone. If they don't leave when required, you can bring the ejectment action to get a kind of court order (commonly called a "writ") which will instruct the sheriff to remove them.
They must first be given proper written notice and a reasonable time (generally, at least a month) to vacate. The notice and legal action are both highly "technical" in that a minor procedural or paperwork error can force you to start over. You are advised to retain an attorney to help you; even though this is not eviction of a tenant, landlord-tenant attorneys do this, so such an attorney would be a good one to call.
Note that if they have seemingly stolen items, you can also sue them for the value of what they took; you can discuss this with your attorney, too.