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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33761
Experience:  15 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate
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TOUGH ONE..back in 1994 my mother and I shared an

Customer Question

THIS IS A TOUGH ONE..back in 1994 my mother and I shared an apartment(the lease was in both our names etc) when she died there my oldest brother(who has since died) and his then wife took many of the possessions(my mom & dads) from our home including all of the family photo albums among many other collectible and antique items without my permission. When my brother died his exwife passed the remaining items(photo albums etc) on to my brothers daughter and both his ex wife and daughter refuse to return any of the items to me. Aren't I the legal heir to the things that belonged to my parents? The photo albums etc have almost no pictures of my niece in them, they are pictures of my brothers and I growing up.
JA: Since estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: They took the items from my mother and i's home in florida and they are now in the state of Washington.
JA: What documents or supporting evidence do you have?
Customer: The only thing I could possibly provide is a statement from my other older brother because like I said they took pretty much everything that belonged to my parents including the supporting documents. I may be able to get pictures from my cousin if she has any of my aunts pictures of my childhood home etc.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: not at this time I just want to know if I can force them to turn over the things that belonged to my parents or if needed sue them for potential value.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 month ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply,but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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Brother and wife had no legal right to take the photos and other items since they belonged to mother's estate after her death. And then the wife had no right to transfer them to the daughter after brother died.

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But the recourse here would be for you to file a probate case to settle mother's estate and be appointed as its legal representative by the probate court judge. Then you can get an order from they judge ordering whoever has the photos to return them to you as the rep of the estate for distribution to the heirs of the estate.

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Until mother's estate is settled, it legally still owns all the items that were taken. But if you and brother were the only children, then you would split any of mother's assets, including the photos, or the cost of making copies..

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You might be able to avoid the probate case and suing them if you had a local attorney send them a "demand letter" basically threatening to sue them for theft of the photos unless they either returned them or made copies of everything and delivered them to you.

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thanks

Barrister

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