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familylawexpert, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 311
Experience:  Substantial experience (14yrs +) in divorce, financial cases, cohabitation, pre-nuptial agreements and civil partnerships.
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who owns household goods when one spouse is deemed unfit to

Customer Question

who owns household goods when one spouse is deemed unfit to manage their affairs and is living in a nursing home and the other spouse living in the marital home refurbishes it and distributes some goods. the spouse living at home dies first leaving all to one child while 18 months later the dementia parent dies leaving all to another child. this child them claims for all the household goods saying they are hers. who do they belong to
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  familylawexpert replied 4 years ago.


My name is Mac and I can help with your question.

Did either spouse leave a will?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

yes both did first one to die left all to one child while the next one left all to another child

Expert:  familylawexpert replied 4 years ago.

The only assets that pass with the estate of the deceased are the assets belonging to the deceased.

Household goods are not necessarily any different to any other assets, so there would have to be an investigation into whether the first spouse had paid for any of the household goods in particular. Any assets that could be identified as belonging to that spouse would have passed to the first spouse's child.

I expect that it may be hard to identify such purchases if they were made some time ago. To the extent that they could not be identified, or that they were bought from a joint account, I expect that a court would consider them to be joint assets, and therefore assets that passed to the second spouse on the first's death.

Basically, there would need to be a full investigation, and I expect that the court would very much rather not get involved because of the cost of the court hearings versus the probable value of the household goods. Given the value / cost issue, it might be better for the two children either to split the value down the middle, or try mediation rather than court proceedings, but that may not be possible.

I hope that is helpful. If you would like me to clarify anything, please ask. If not, I would be grateful if you could rate my answer.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

what if the first spouse had given these items to the first child when refurbishing the house after the second child said she wanted nothing from the house

Expert:  familylawexpert replied 4 years ago.

If the first spouse had already gifted assets when he/she was alive (and was entitled to do so by virtue of ownership), then those assets were already gone by the time the first spouse died, and therefore did not form part of the estate passing on death.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

the 2nd spouse months before she died gifted the first child certain jewellery which she had in the nursing home with her. this was done in the nursing home. although the 2nd spouse had dementia the 2nd spouse was insistent the first child should get this jewellery and the whole gifting was witnessed by another party. who owns this jewellery

lastly on the second spouse death the 2nd child said she was too distressed to arrange the funeral so the first child was asked to do so. this information was obtained thro solicitors. part of this arrangement was to bury her rings with her. is the first child responsible for the value of the rings

Expert:  familylawexpert replied 4 years ago.

The gift of jewellery, if witnessed as you say, should be an effective gift.

No, I do not think there is likely to be liability for the rings.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am the 1st child and my sister is the 2nd child. my sister has produced a list of 174 items that were in the home from 4 years ago when my mother last lived there. since then there was 2 major clear outs all with my fathers consent. she placed a value of £25000 on these items and issued me with a high court summons. my solicitor made me go thro the items and list what was my fathers (17) , what was taken to the skip (75), what I never had (22) and what was still in my possession. the case has been removed from the high court to the county court. I said she could have the jewellery and everything else that I had kept but not the 17 items that I am sure were my fathers (gun, clocks, ploughs). she has agreed to this but I have been advised to pay her costs. what should I do

Expert:  familylawexpert replied 4 years ago.
What are her costs?

And what are yours?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

her costs my solicitor thinks £3000 at least as per county court scale while my costs he has not added up yet. I cannot as yet get a definite answer. the goods and jewellery that I have on my valuation are worth £2452 while her valuation of them is £2470 - 3470


I would dearly like this matter resolved but if I agree to pay her costs am I not basically saying i am guilty.

Expert:  familylawexpert replied 4 years ago.

If you are still in negotations with her, then I would be seeking to make 'no order as to costs' part of the agreement.

If it is too late for that, in that you have a concluded agreement on the chattels, then I would suggest you make a 'without prejudice save as to costs' offer of something - say around £1k. That way, she could take something and feel like she's won, and you would have no more uncertainty. If she doesn't take it, you'd also have something to point to, to say you'd sought to settle.

If her application is being compromised by agreement, then costs should be part of that. You presumably don't have to concede that the jewellery is hers - so it is a concession on your part. Does your solicitor say it is too late to extract a concession from her (ie one on costs)?
Expert:  familylawexpert replied 4 years ago.

I noticed that you have not rated my answer, and wondered whether there was some aspect of your question on which you would like further help, or if you were happy with it? If you would like further help on it, please let me know.

Kind regards,