Wills have several standard parts, one of which is a section for specific bequests: “I bequest to my son the 1975 Chevy Corvette he has loved from his youth and to my youngest daughter my lake property located in Tallapoosa County which she lives in today.” Bequests often assign personal property such as guns and jewelry. A will often has a “residual” clause as well which, after the bequests are stated, assigns the rest of the estate to a particular person or group of people: e.g., “The rest of my estate, both real and personal property, I leave to my surviving children in equal shares.” You can usually figure out who gets the contents of the home based upon the bequests and the residual clause.

If there is no will, the laws of Intestate succession determine who gets what, whether real property or its contents. The law favors the spouse first, then children, then siblings, and then parents.

Assert yourself, and do not let the contents of the house be plundered by relatives and neighbors. Change the locks, and ask the probate court for administration of the estate if there is no will. If you don’t take charge, the contents of the house will disappear before the probate court can act to protect them.