what's the law?
Dad’s girlfriend worries his children
My dad has a girlfriend whom we don't trust, and we all think she's after our property when our dad is gone. Does she have the right to take it away if anything happens to our dad? If so, how? We don't want to lose anything to her at all. We want to keep the house and property in the family where it belongs. How can we prevent this from happening?
Answer: From the managing attorney of Legal Aid's Housing Unit: Generally, if your father owns his home, he can do with it as he pleases; he can sell it or even give it away (this would be subject to any other valid claims on the property, however, such as a mortgage). As adult children, you only have the rights to the home that your father gives you. If your father makes a will, he can leave the house to anyone he wants. If he dies without a will, and you are the closest relatives, you could have some claim on the property.
Q: I live in a condo and had water damage to my unit from an upstairs unit. My home insurance policy through State Farm covered the repairs, but I had to pay a $500 deductible. Our condominium bylaws state that you are responsible for damages caused to another unit. I spoke to the property owner, who told me that she doesn't have liability insurance. I asked State Farm if they will require her to pay my $500 deductible. They told me that I may have to take her to small claims court. Will I ever recover my $500, either from her personally or from her insurance company? Would it be necessary for me to file in small claims court?
A: From the managing attorney of Legal Aid's Housing Unit: Unfortunately, you do indeed need to take the other tenant to small claims court if she will not pay you in good faith. You will need to show the court receipts to prove what you personally had to pay.
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.