In Monsters Manual we can read that a lich cannot be destroyed if its philactery still exists, and that it is similar to magic jar:

In all cases, a lich will protect itself from annihilation with the creation of a phylactery in which it stores its life force. This is similar to a magic jar spell

In its creation we can assume the philactery is used to allows possession of the own mage's body, but if a lich has its body destroyed, which body its soul will possess? A stored dead body? Or anyone who approaches?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've updated your title to correspond to the question in the body. They appeared to be different questions, but titles should be nothing more than indicative summaries of the question body. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Mar 27 '19 at 23:59

I think the text that states it's similar to Magic Jar is the important part here; within magic jar, it seems to somewhat answer how this would work.

Any life force with nowhere to go is treated as slain. If the spell ends while you are in the magic jar, you return to your body (or die if your body is out of range or destroyed). If the spell ends while you are in a host, you return to your body (or die, if it is out of range of your current position), and the soul in the magic jar returns to its body (or dies if it is out of range). Destroying the receptacle ends the spell, and the spell can be dispelled at either the magic jar or at the host’s location.

All of this taken together seems to suggest that so long as the phylactery is sustained as well as the magic link to whatever host body the soul can posess, the lich can/will indeed live on within a different body.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The only comparison I can do is with the draco lich. Its process differs from magic jar when it not allows the possession of a living being: "Once the spirit is contained in the host, the host must be brought within 90 feet of a reptilian corpse; under no circumstances can the spirit possess a living body. The spirit's original body is ideal, but the corpse of any reptilian creature that died or was killed within the previous 30 days is suitable." But without another source, your answer seems the most plausible, If nobody else presents other argument, I will take it as correct. \$\endgroup\$ – Lucas Mar 28 '19 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ In a Forgotten Realms adventure named Castle Spulzeer, page 8 to 9, there is a ritual made by a lich (a unusual one, true, because his corpse do not decays) possessing a human to restore his undead body. In this case, the lich described there can only possess his own body. It is an official adventure, but the lich described there seems unorthodox. \$\endgroup\$ – Lucas Jul 24 '19 at 19:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I already accepted this answer but I had readed Van Richten's Guide to the Lich where the gray box in page 53 explains that generally a lich can possess a dead body or a undead but DMs are encouraged to create variations of the rules as allowing the lich to possess living bodies. \$\endgroup\$ – Lucas May 19 at 22:30

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