If our small business used a contractor to do some work for us but they passed away, what are the legal steps we need to take to get our product back?

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If our small business used a contractor to do some work for us but they passed away, what are the legal steps we need to take to get our product back?

The contractor passed away suddenly and their estate is with the State as they had no Will. The contractor had a significant amount of our material and product at their home office. Her relatives are stating that they cannot give us the product.

Asked on December 18, 2014 under Business Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If the product did not belong to the contractor, then the relatives legally *can* gve you the product back--but the issue may be that they may be unsure of the ownership. (They cannot return or give up anything that does or may belong to the estate until it has been settled.) First send them (or their attorney, if there is an attorney working on this matter) proof of ownership, if you have not done so yet. If they still will not release the product to you, your only option would be to file a legal action in surrogates or chancery court, seeking an order for the product's return. This can be expensive, since you'd almost certanly need an attorney to do this (it's much more complicated then filing a small claims case, for example), so depending on how much product is involved, it may not be cost effective.


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