What are my rights to an item of my late mother?

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What are my rights to an item of my late mother?

Several months ago my mother died. My husband and I accumulated 13 roundtrip cross country fares and other travel expense my the time that she died, at least $20,000. The last time we saw her alive, she told us she wanted to give us money to help with our expenses but didn’t before she died. She left everything to my younger brother. When I left, I took a 14k gold charm bracelet that was not legally specified in her Will. My brother knew and said go ahead. Now I received a court order to return the bracelet. Am I legally obligated? I don’t specifically want the bracelet,and told my brother if he wanted to give me a check for $10,000, we’d call it even. My sister is contesting the Will, if that is relevant.

Asked on September 8, 2014 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the issues that have arisen. If your Mother gave you the bracelet while she was alive then your claim is that it was a gift.  If your Brother consented to giving it to you with out authority to do so (he was not the executor at the time) then you could be accused of stealing the asset. Even if he was executor if your sister is contesting the Will then the executor has an obligation to make sure that all assets are there that should be there and to keep them safe before the court makes a decision on the Will contest. If your brother was left everything - real property and personal property - then you have no right to the item unless it goes through probate.  You may want to discuss your options with a lawyer.  Good luck.


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