What can be do if items were wrongfully taken from an estate?

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What can be do if items were wrongfully taken from an estate?

MY STEP-BROTHER HAD GIVEN OUR MOM SOME GIFTS OVER THE YEARS. SHE DIED A YEAR AGO. MY DAD (WHO IS HIS STEP-DAD) DID NOT WANT TO GET RID OF MY MOM’S THINGS. MY DAD JUST PASSED AWAY A COUPLE MONTHS AGO AND NOW STEP-BROTHER TOOK ALL OF THE ITEMS HE BOUGHT AS GIFTS OUT OF THE HOUSE WHEN NO ONE ELSE WAS AROUND. IS THERE ANYTHING THAT I CAN DO?

Asked on September 7, 2010 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Speak with an attorney. If those items were gifts (and not just loans), then they were not your step-brother's to take back. Instead, since they belonged to your mother, they became part of her estate when she passed--going to your father, and then passing via his will or intestate succession when he passed away. Taking them from the estate is, essentially theft, and the estate or other heirs could bring a legal action against  your step-brother. Of course, that  is a very drastic step, so might want to "step back," so to speak, and consider whether it is worth suing a family member over these items. If  you decide that you want to go ahead, speak with a trusts and estates attorney about what exactly the recourse is.


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