What to do if my fiance was gifted 2 motorcycles from her dying uncle which were picked up but he passed before any paperwork was done?

Her uncle’s live-in girlfriend now claims that his passing automatically makes the bikes hers. Does she have any right to the bikes. There is no Will and my fiance had power if attorney up to his death.

Asked on June 25, 2014 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It's a matter of proving the facts: IF your finance can prove that her uncle gifted them to  her prior to death, she can keep them, since people can dispose of their assets (gift, sell, barter, trade, etc.) while they are still alive and mentally competent. It may, however, be very difficult to prove that this is what happened. If your fiance gifted them to herself using the POA, that could be problematic, since while the POA might have given her the authority to make gifts of his assets (check the terms of the POA to see if it did), the attorney-in-fact (person given authority by the POA) had a legal obligation to do so for the grantor's (the uncle's) benefit, not her own; gifting to herself would be very irregular and likely could be successfully challanged as a violation of the duty she owed her uncle. In short, it may be difficult to sustain the gifts.


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