Is it legal for my late mother’s sister to keep her jewelry?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal for my late mother’s sister to keep her jewelry?

My aunt will not give my mom’s jewelry back to me after she commuted suicide

and I’m the only child.

Asked on March 30, 2016 under Estate Planning, Alabama


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If it was gifted or given to your aunt, she does not need to return it: once something is gifted to another, it is hers.
If your aunt had only borrowed the jewlery while your mother was alive, with the expectation or agreement to return it, or took it after your mother passed, then she has to give it back unless your mother had a will leaving it your aunt; in the absence of a will, if there is no surviving spouse, an only child gets everything. You could, if necessary, sue her for the return of the jewlery or its monetary value.

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 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.

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