What is my liability regarding the unintentional destruction of property?

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What is my liability regarding the unintentional destruction of property?

My father passed away last week and his dying wish for me was to burn all of the electronics that he had in his house; he didn’t want valuable information to get in the wrong hands. I complied. However, now I got a civil action hearing notice at my door for someone claiming that one of the computers was his. Am I liable for this?

Asked on January 26, 2015 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you are liable; you intentionally destroyed another person's property. (In the law, you "intentionally" "did something that you did deliberately, even if you did so under some mistake of fact). You may be able to escape criminal liability because you would not have had the requisite criminal state of mind if you thought the computer was your father, but you would still be civilly liable (i.e. have to pay for) the computer if sued.


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