If an item was left to someone in an unnotarized/unsigned piece of paper/will and they haven’t claimed it in two years, is it still rightfully theirs?

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If an item was left to someone in an unnotarized/unsigned piece of paper/will and they haven’t claimed it in two years, is it still rightfully theirs?

Mom listed items in her house on a sheet of paper. She never signed it or had it notarized. One item was a preserved Alaskan King crab she caught in 1967. Beside the crab it had Annette’s name listed. It has now been almost two years since mom’s passing and Annette, out of the blue, now says she wants it. It has been a fixture in the house for over thirty years. Is she entitled to it?

Asked on May 22, 2017 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Only a properly executed (that is, a properly signed and witnessed) will has any power to direct who gets what after a person dies. A unsigned "piece of paper," even if it otherwise looks like a will, is not enforceable. So based on what you write, this person has no rights tothe crab.


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