Can my son’s ex-wife remove things from his storage unit without permission?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can my son’s ex-wife remove things from his storage unit without permission?

My son and his future rented an apartment for themselves and his son. While my
son was in the hospital his ex-wife removed some of their son’s belongings. She
also opened my son’s mail.
She also removed items for his personal storage unit.
After being told to only take their son’s personal she continued to remove
My son passed away last week and she has now removed my son’s rifle. He has a
will and in that will he gave his son his car. There is no mention of the gun
going to his son. She is refusing to return the gun.
Can she legally keep it?

Asked on June 15, 2017 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

As to their son's belongings, she could retrieve them for him--they are their son's belongings, so he would have a right to them, and with his permission or authority, she could retrieve them.
But as an ex-wife, she had no right to anything owned by your son which she did not already own (e.g. it was jointly owned by the two of them), or was not willed to her (and even there, she procedurally jumped the gun, so to speak, in doing this, but if at the end of the day, she would have inherited the item[s], there was no harm done). Anything solely owned by him (e.g. not jointly owned with the ex-wife) and not left to her in a will is something which she had no legal right to take and which, if she did, she stole. Your son's estate, by it's executor (if there was a will) or court-appointed adminstrator or personal representative (if no will) could sue her for the return of those items, such as the gun, or their monetary value.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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