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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34105
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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A family member is in possession of a large number of my wife's

Resolved Question:

A family member is in possession of a large number of my wife's deceased parents' photographs and personal memorabilia. The lot has previously been passed amongst different siblings for safe-keeping and custodianship, but the current holder is now refusing to share or pass them on again. What legal options are available to us?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
How did the items come to be in this person's possession?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

They were passed to her by a different family member.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
What relationship are the person who holds them and the person who gave them to hm/her to your wife?
What did your wife's parents Will say about chattels?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The will says the chattels to be divided evenly between siblings. The person who holds them is my wife's sibling and the photos were passed to the current holder by another sibling.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
How long ago did the last parent die?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

8 months. The movement of the photos between siblings was already happening by then as the father was in a care home.

(I should mention that there is a wider dispute about the chattels in the father's will, which is ongoing. The executors seem to think that a reasonable solution is to distribute the cash according to the will and let the siblings fight it out afterwards as to what chattels exist and how they will be divided...)

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Are these the only chattels?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No. There is £20 - 30k worth of chattels currently held in an inequitable fashion. The arguments revolve around whether the more valuable items are 'chattels' held in custodianship by family members or lifetime gifts to those family members. The photos are worth intrinsically nothing, but also differ in the sense that they have previously been moving around rather than in one place for a number of years.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Are all the siblings (apart from the one holding them) agreed that these should be shared between you?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

If you mean the photos/memorabilia, then yes.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
For clarity is this sibling now saying that the photos were given to him/her to keep for good by the deceased?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Not saying anything on the subject, just ignoring requests. Seems to be relying on 'possession is 9/10ths' argument.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Sadly there is some force in this
You refer to the Executors - are they also family members?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No, a firm of solicitors.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So what is your advice on this please?
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Yes I am sure they will opt out which will make things very difficult given that most of the items you are referring to have little intrinsic value.
The Executors role is to distribute the assets in a financially equal way - which means that there is no legal basis on which the items with only sentimental value can be litigated over
However if litigation does happen over the other items then these mementos can be included in the negotiations
Apart from that your only option is mediation - I am sorry but this is an area where the law is of little assistance
Please ask if you need further details
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My question was 'what legal options are available to us'?

Ignoring the will dispute (which I did not initially raise at all) we have a situation where a person has property in their house, which four other persons believe belong to them as well and wish to have their rightful access and shared ownership rights.

Are you telling me that there is no legal action that can be taken?

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
No one of the siblings has more claim than the other so there is no legal basis on which action could be taken
The sibling in possession can simply say that he/she has retained them as part of their share of the Chattels and there is no legal basis on which it can be challenged as none of the others have a BETTER right to them.
Your only legal option is to pull this into the Will dispute and negotiate on that basis
Clare
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