What action can I take for not receiving a personal item that was left to me per my mother’s Will?

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What action can I take for not receiving a personal item that was left to me per my mother’s Will?

My mother left me a valuable antique chair in her Will. I have not received it, I spoke with her attorneys secretary today and she claims according to my sister whom is the executor of the Will that all personal items mentioned in the Will have been distributed which is false as I have never heard anything about my chair (nor has my nephew in whom was to receive several personal items).

Asked on November 12, 2010 under Estate Planning, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your only recourse would be to bring a legal action, which will first enable you to use legal tools called "discovery" to try to find out what actually happened to the chair (e.g. requesting documents, subpoening people to testify under oath, etc.) and then to sue for either the chair's return or its monetary value, if/when you identify a party which improperly took or otherwise disposed of said chair. This is something you, as a practical matter, would need legal assistance with, so if the chair is valuable enough (sentimentally or economically) to justify that, you should speak with an attorney. Note that if the chair was disposed of by your mother or destroyed prior to her death, then no one will be liable or responsible--a will is always construed to mean distribuing those assets actually existing and owned by the estate as of the time of the testator's death (i.e. wills can and do mention assets which, for one reason or another, do not exist or are not owned when the person who made the will passes; in that case, the will is simply irrelevant as to said item).


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