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Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a Family Law litigation attorney. Thanks for your question ~ no apologies necessary; I really appreciate the details.
The BIGGEST issue is to make clear who actually owns the corner cabinet. If your husband purchased the cabinet 40 years ago, then it is in all likelihood HIS cabinet, and if that is the case, then he's got the absolute right to do whatever he wishes with it - - including giving it to his daughter. On the other hand, if the corner cabinet was owned by your husband's deceased wife, then her ownership interest would have been either (a) willed to someone (if she had a will), or (b) transferred to next of kin under the laws of intestate succession (no will) - - in this scenario, it would be most likely that your husband and his children all have an interest in the item.
It would be best if your husband were to claim the item is his, that he bought it years ago, etc. - - because that would avoid having to deal with the interest of his deceased wife.....
Thus, your husband can take legal action to recover his property. He could file criminal charges against the daughter in law for theft, but that's probably not the route he wants to go.
The alternative would be to file a lawsuit in civil court and sue for trespass to chattles (personal property) and conversion (someone is allowed to use another's property and then refuses to give it back - - the person "converts" the item to his/her own use). Your husband would have to claim that the cabinet belongs to him and that she took the item without permission; he should be able to obtain an order directing her to return the item.
I know either way is a bit of a hassle because courts have to be involved, but if the daughter in law will not comply with your husband's request, that's really the only option.
I hope this answered your question, but if you need something else please let me know and I'll be glad to respond.
Thank you for your prompt response. My husband's late wife did not have a will. Therefore, if I understand what is being said...the husband and his daughter are the ones with the interest since his son is deceased. For further clarification, the fact that the cabinet was used in the son's home has no bearing. Is that correct? Also, the claim that the cabinet was given to the daughter-in-law by the late wife also has no bearing. Correct? My husband is claiming that he purchased the cabinet, therefore, it belongs to him and that it was removed from his home without his knowledge and permission. He was planning on having the local sheriff accompany him to the home in order to get the cabinet. Is this something he can do other than file suit?
The use of the item in the son's home would not have any bering AS LONG AS the owner (your husband) never told her that she could have it.
Again - if the deceased mother-in-law didn't actually OWN the cabinet, she had no right to give it away. So, even if she said this (which would be virtually impossible to prove), it doesn't matter because it wasn't hers to give.
He can ask the sheriff to go with him to get his cabinet, but it is VERY unlikely that the sheriff's office will get involved unless he first gets a court order.
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