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james bruce
james bruce, Solicitor-Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 7563
Experience:  Owner at James Bruce Solicitors
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I was given some items - a portrait, medals etc. - in 2018.

Customer Question

I was given some items - a portrait, medals etc. - in 2018. The person who gave me them died in 2020. Her late husband's will left all his personal chattels to her. Her son is now claiming that his father gave them to him a few years before his father's death and is threatening court action to get them. I would like to know a) if there is a time limit for such court action and b) how a supposed oral gift that no one else knew about (the person who gave me the items referred to them as 'mine' in an email) can override a will
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: England
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: A letter of claim was sent by his solicitors. I replied to it with why I don't think they were his but I am yet to receive an acknowledgement or reply
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: Not that I can think of
Submitted: 21 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  james bruce replied 21 days ago.
Hello, I hope you are well. My name is***** am a solicitor advocate and  I will be assisting you with your question today. I am very sorry to hear of the problem you are experiencing and I will do my best to help you with this matter.
Customer: replied 21 days ago.
Thank you
Expert:  james bruce replied 21 days ago.

If these items were given to you by the person as gifts, then yes they are yours and you do not have to return them.

It is unusual for a persons medals to be given away to someone especially if their is a son.

It is possible that the farther did give the medals to his son whilst he was alive, that is very common, and that the son left the medals in his mothers home for safe keeping.

The son will of course need to prove with evidence that he was actually given the medals by his father prior to his death and as such the medals did not form part of the estate that was left to the mother.

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
He has stated that he left the items in his mother's house for safe-keeping as he suffered an attempted break in and feared another. However, the time he gives for placing the items in his mother's house is the same time he married and from which his wife has run a piano tuition business from their home. He has also alleged that his mother had 'mental health problems' and yet now seeks to say that the home of an elderly woman who lived alone and who - according to him - suffered mental health problems was the best place for safe-keeping his property. He and his solicitors have produced no evidence of the gift. They have stated they don't need to.
Expert:  james bruce replied 21 days ago.

Do you have proof these items were gifted to you?

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
I have emails in which she wrote about she was thinking of giving them to me. I could also get my friends (they happened to live near her) to provide evidence as they were the ones who collected the items from her house as they were coming home for a visit. They brought the items from her house to mine. I also have an email from a close friend of hers who stated that he was aware of her giving the items to me. That was sent after her death but she must have informed him of the gift.
Expert:  james bruce replied 21 days ago.

thinking of giving them, and actually do ing so two different thong.

Your account gives the impression that another person brought these items to you, so in theory they could have been taken.  I am just looking at all options the other side could come up with.

Send the solicitors your evidence ie the emails and any letters from friends. The solicitor may accept that and advice the son he has no claim.

However, I can see this going to court to be settled one way or the other.

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
This is what she wrote in June 2017 - "My enquiry into what becomes is because I was thinking along the lines of giving you Lena’s medals, Ishbel’s scholarship medallions, and maybe the portrait – although I’ve no idea what condition it is in...upstairs and I can’t climb, I’ll get Dave [her friend mentioned above] to bring it down for inspection. Not only is there the vital question of condition the real poser is whether you have room"
Customer: replied 21 days ago.
from July 2017 - "Since my darling boy doesn’t want to deal with me I am naturally finding it hard to decide what is to become of the Maxwell/Campbell memorabilia and I’ve half a mind to give the whole lot over to you…medals and all."
Expert:  james bruce replied 21 days ago.

That does not confirm she has given you the items.

So all I can advice is send you evidence to the solicitor and see what they do next.

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
I'm sorry, but I don't understand this. She arranged for me to have the items, she spoke to my friends at her house, her gardener (I believe it was) helped to load the items into my friends' car, I have her emails after the arrival of said items, I have further items which she posted and yet I do not have confirmation that she has given me the items? Even her son accepts that she gave me the items (he and his solicitors put 'gave' in inverted commas) although he asserts that they were not hers to give.
Expert:  james bruce replied 21 days ago.

Then if you have the emails etc to show them items were gifted to you show that to the solicitors.

Then if they want to take the matter further, the son will need to provide proof he was given the item whist his father was alive.

Expert:  james bruce replied 21 days ago.

Can I assist or clarify anything further?

Customer: replied 21 days ago.
No, thank you. Thank you for your help
Expert:  james bruce replied 21 days ago.

Your welcome,

Good luck.

Thank you for using Just Answer and for allowing me to assist you with your legal enquiry. I am pleased I was able to be of assistance. Please do not hesitate to come back to me for further advice on this or any other legal matter. It will be my pleasure to be able to assist you again.