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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50178
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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My 91 year old Mother give my sister a precious photograph

Customer Question

My 91 year old Mother give my sister a precious photograph of her Father for her to get a copy made. They have since fallen out and my sister has ignored a request for her to return it. It is distressing my Mother greatly, and although I am reluctant to get involved (I don't speak to my sister), I find it hard to standby and watch my Mother get so distressed. She has said she wants it back before she dies. She has carried it around since she left Germany in 1947, so it is of great sentimental value to her. My sister will probably think that I have something to do with this when I dont, so I am in an awful situation. Does my Mother need to send her a letter to ask for it back, and if so, should there be a timescale? My Mother wants me to get a solicitor for her!
Many thanks
Judith Seymour
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

The photo will clearly be your mother’s property so she should be able to demand for its return. The issue is what happens if your sister refuses to return it. A solicitor can only do so much and they cannot really do much more than simply make a formal request for its return, something your mother can do for free without using a solicitor. A formal solicitors’ letter can still add a bit of weight as it would show she is taking this seriously and is enlisting professional help but it would still not guarantee its return. If she flatly refuses to return the photo then the only option left is for legal action. That would only have two potential outcomes – an order for specific performance ordering her to return the photo, with failure to follow it resulting in potential contempt which can eventually become a criminal breach. The other possibility is compensation for damages but that won’t resolve the issue of getting the photo back. I suggest you start off with sending a letter yourself (or helping your mother send one from her name) and only getting a solicitor if it appears she is refusing to give the photo back. As a starting point you can also set a specific timescale -for compliance, such as 7-14 days, although it is preferable to specify a set date instead.

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