How Do I Unseal Apartment After Death that was Sealed by the Police?
There are a number of circumstances where you may have to unseal an apartment after the death of a family member or close friend. The police will most often seal the apartment when a person is found in the apartment and the person’s death is reported by a neighbor or landlord. The reason that the apartment is sealed is to safeguard assets and evidence. When you visit the apartment, you will see either police tape across the door or a small sticker on the side of the door indicating that the apartment has been sealed. The building manager will tell you have to get access from the police and the police will tell you to go to Surrogate’s court in order to unseal an apartment.
How then do you Unseal an Apartment After Death?
- Go to the Miscellaneous Department in the county where your friend of family member has died. Obtain a Petition to Unseal the Residence and Examine Apartment. Counties may have their own specific forms.
- Fill out the Petition, as well as a Proposed Order to unseal the apartment. You will also need to provide proof that you are either the next of kin, or that you have permission from the next of kin to conduct this search. For example, if your aunt died, you have to show that your aunt did not have children, parents, or siblings who are living and who want to conduct this search. If your mother died, you have to obtain an authorization from your brother that you can conduct this search.
- After you have gathered all of the forms, go to Court, file the forms, and pay the $20 fee. The Surrogate’s Court will review the forms and, if all in good order, will usually issue the Order within a few hours.
- Once the Order is issued, call the Police precinct holding the keys to the apartment. The Police will either tell you to meet them at the apartment or to come to the precinct to be escorted to the Apartment.
- When you open the Apartment, you can search for a Will, Burial Deed, Insurance, or other significant information immediately related to burying the Decedent or Probating his Will. After you have conducted you search, the Police will then seal the residence again and tell you to come back with Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration.
If you find the Will, you should then proceed to Probate the Will. If you do not find the Will, If you do not find a Will, then you can either do a Proceeding to Open the Safe Deposit Box or a Petition for Administration. If you do not believe that the Decedent left a Will, then you may not want to bother with the petition to unseal. You may just want to file for Estate Administration.
We are fully operational and can help you unseal the apartment, open a safe deposit box, petition for probate or administration, and more. Please contact us to discuss your needs.
Additional resources provided by the author
For more information, please contact probate and estate planning attorney Regina Kiperman:
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New York, NY 10038
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