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By: Scott Grossman on February 14th, 2018

What to do When Estate Litigation Over Personal Property Arises?

When Robin Williams passed away in August 2014, the world lost a brilliant comedian who left behind many loved ones. Unfortunately, disputes have arisen during the process of administering his estate. The actor’s widow and children from previous marriages are pursuing estate litigation over personal property items belonging to Williams. This case is just another example of how estate litigation battles do not always center on financial assets. Estate litigation over personal property Items can include clothing, furniture, jewelry, or collectibles. They can have just as much potential for contention as bank accounts and life insurance policies.

What Types of Disputes Arise Over Personal Property?

Often, disputes over personal property derive from underlying relationship issues or resentments among the parties involved. Unfortunately, this can make the problem even more difficult to resolve. The specific nature of disputes over personal property typically involve the following issues:

  • Division of the personal property between the beneficiaries
  • Ownership over certain items of personal property
  • The value of certain items of personal property

What to Do When Estate Litigation over Personal Property Arises?

  • Make sure to consult with an attorney. It is important to note that the attorney assisting with the estate administration does not represent your individual interests. You may need to hire your own legal professional to stand in your corner.
  • Ensure that the trustee or personal representative has taken control of the estate’s assets. Sometimes beneficiaries will simply try to remove items of personal property before this occurs, without proper authorization. Once it is gone, it can be very difficult to get it back.
  • Request a meeting with the trustee or the personal representative of the estate and the other beneficiaries. In some cases, disputes over personal property can be resolved through clear communication.
  • If the item has financial value, ensure that a proper appraisal is done to determine its value. A trustee or personal representative may try to obtain a lesser appraised value on the asset in order to minimize estate taxes. You may be able to compare the appraised value to the value listed on its insurance policy (or on the homeowner’s insurance policy) to ensure that the item is properly valued.
  • Determine whether the will or trust of your loved ones directs that specific items of personal property go to specific individuals. If so, these items must be distributed accordingly.
  • Determine whether the will or trust contains instructions as to how to handle disputes involving personal property. In some cases, the trustee may be instructed to sell the item and divide the proceeds evenly. In other cases, they may be given the discretion to make the decision as to who should receive which items of property.
  • Petition the court. If disputes remain unresolved or a proposed resolution is unsatisfactory, you may need to file a petition with the court.

Still Unsure about What Course of Action to Pursue? We are Here to Help!

In conclusion, if you are the beneficiary of an estate involving a dispute over personal property, it is crucial that you seek legal assistance as soon as possible. We are here to help. We encourage you to learn more by checking out our many client testimonials on our website. If you would like to receive more information about estate litigation issues over personal property, feel free to fill out our quick and easy contact form. It would be our pleasure to further assist you.

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