Personal representative is claiming property belonged to deceased that didn’t

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Personal representative is claiming property belonged to deceased that didn’t

My unmarried partner died several month ago leaving behind her tangible
personal property in my house where we both lived together. Her adult son, who is
the sole beneficiary, was appointed by the court as personal representative and so
I recently allowed him to come over to start collecting her possessions. However,
now he is claiming that several items of furniture in the house belonged to his
mother and are thus part of the estate. These are pieces that I purchased many
years ago solely with my own funds and did not belong to her. How is a dispute
like this settled? What if neither party can show proof of ownership, such as a
purchase receipt?

Asked on July 21, 2016 under Estate Planning, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It's settled by filing a legal action in surrogates or probate court, and asking the court to determine who owned what. If there is no proof of ownership, it will be decided based on witness testimony: you will testify as when, how, etc. you bought the items, the son will testify as to why he thinks they were his mother's, and the judge will decide who is more credible or believable.

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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