Is it legal for my late mother’s sister to keep her jewelry?

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Is it legal for my late mother’s sister to keep her jewelry?

My aunt will not give my mom’s jewelry back to me after she commuted suicide

and I’m the only child.

Asked on March 30, 2016 under Estate Planning, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If it was gifted or given to your aunt, she does not need to return it: once something is gifted to another, it is hers.
If your aunt had only borrowed the jewlery while your mother was alive, with the expectation or agreement to return it, or took it after your mother passed, then she has to give it back unless your mother had a will leaving it your aunt; in the absence of a will, if there is no surviving spouse, an only child gets everything. You could, if necessary, sue her for the return of the jewlery or its monetary value.


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