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Roger, Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 31672
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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There is a dispute between my husbands daughter and daughter-in-law

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There is a dispute between my husband's daughter and daughter-in-law over a piece of furniture. The daughter claims that it was promised to her and the daughter-in-law claims that it was given to her by my husband's late wife. To complicate matters, the item in question was used in the daughter-in-law's home for a period of a few years. The daughter-in-law and my husband's son lived with my husband and his late wife for a number of years and during that time, the item was in the home in which they all resided. Both my husband's son and wife are deceased. To complicate even further, upon the death of his wife, my husband placed his daughter-in-law's name on the deed to the house. That, however, is a moot point because his name is XXXXX XXXXX one on the loan and he is allowing the house to go into foreclosure. It is currently in that status after being for sale for more than one year. The daughter and daughter-in-law were together in the home during the last month. The daughter explained to the daughter-in-law that the item (a corner cabinet) was promised to her and that she wanted it. The daughter-in-law has been resistent to give it up. My husband went yesterday to pick up the cabinet along with other items requested by his daughter. The daughter-in-law has removed the cabinet from the home and placed it in an undisclosed storage location in order to prevent the daughter for having it. My husband told her that was unacceptable. My husband bought the cabinet more than 40 years ago and feels that it belongs to his daughter. He was not present when the cabinet was "given" to his daughter-in-law by his late wife as she claims. He is aware that it was used by her son and daughter-in-law when they lived on their own, however, they lived most of their married life with he and his late wife. Let me be clear...his daughter-in-law is not in any way a nice, considerate person but is in every way, greedy, selfish and spiteful. Does my husband have any recourse in order to get the cabinet back for his daughter? Sorry I have been so verbose but it is hard to explain without doing so.

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.



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

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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