Should I be entitled to a gift given to me by my aunt before she died?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Should I be entitled to a gift given to me by my aunt before she died?

Approximately 2 years ago I was takingcare of my seriously ill uncle and his wife for 7 months; He was in and out of hospitals. My uncle passed on and my aunt, in front of witnesses, gifted to me was giving me his 2 watches (a gold Rolex, and an Omega). However I did not take them at the time. I told her I would wait until his Will was read and if there was no mention is made, I would take the watches then. I made the executor aware of thisand she agreed. Now, since his Will made no mention as to what should be done with his jewelry, she is telling me the law says I should pay his estate their value if I want them. My aunt passed on soon after him.

Asked on April 10, 2011 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You probably do not have a right to them.

It's doubtful that your aunt could give you the watches at that time (right after your uncle passed); until the will was probated and the assets distributed, his belongings--like his watches--are not hers to distribute. Once someone passes, their belongings MUST go through the person's estate; someone, even a spouse, cannot give away assets of a decedent. There are exceptions for items which pass, without probate or by intestate succession, directly to the spouse, like a joint bank account; since it automatically becomes hers when the other account holder passes, she may make distributions from it. However, personal property which was his does not automatically go to the spouse, so once he passed, it would need to be distributed according to his will or intestate succession.

If you aunt had lived, once she received the  watches from her husband's estate (if she did), she could have gift them to you, but that, unfortunately, if not what happened.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption