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Family papers: are they assets?

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  • Freeflowing
    started a topic Family papers: are they assets?

    Family papers: are they assets?

    This concerns my sister’s estate. She had 3 children, who I’’ll describe as S1, S2 and S3. The will has all 3 as joint executors. All is left equally, the will employing the wording “upon trust to...”” (the 3 are then specified) “”in equal shares absolutely”.”

    My sister was looking after a suitcase full of family papers, the family here being long gone ancestors of hers, not of ancestors of her husband, who predeceased her. There are letters from a great aunt. Various other documents - I’ve not seen it at all so I can’t be precise. A large number of photos of various aunts and uncles, not all identified. A very old and significant memento (which would have negligible market value). It is in essence an archive, a treasure trove of old family stuff of an ancestry.com nature.

    I believe that my sister was *custodian* of this archive, that it does not form part of the estate assets. The question is, is that the case, legally?

    Administration of the estate is at an early stage.

    There are reasons to avoid the continuing possession of the suitcase by S3, who currently holds it. Generally-speaking, S2 sides with S3. S1 is a decent person. S2 and S3 made no reference to S1 over funeral arrangements; there was already a schism.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.
    Last edited by Freeflowing; 7th October 2019, 22:50:PM.
    Tags: None

  • Mont
    replied
    ‘Custodian’ is an interesting choice of words and suggests some sort of trust. How did she come into possession of the items? Were they a gift to her? If so I think they will be her property and form part of her estate to be distributed under her Will. If they were not gifted to her outright then on what terms did she receive them?

    Leave a comment:


  • des8
    replied
    Pity there should be a dispute over these items.
    Is it not possible to have a family discussion with a view to nominating one person to care for them, whilst allowing free access to the others.
    As Amethyst points out the documents could be archived digitally for all to view.

    You suggest your sister was only a custodian, so who do you think is the owner, and do you have any proof?
    The letters technically belong to the recipient, or if they are deceased, to their heirs, unless gifted to another or abandoned
    Likewise the other items will belong to the original owner or heirs,unless gifted to another or abandoned

    If these items relate to your late sisters family, presumably they also relate to your family.
    How did they enter your sisters possession?
    Did she inherit them perhaps from her mother? , or were they gifted to her?
    Could they have been left jointly to you both? in which case they are yours.

    I suspect that if it went all legal there would be a Solomon like judgment that the archive be split between the three heirs.
    This would be a shame, but I doubt there is any monetary value to these priceless family records to enable the value to be offset against other items

    In the end it should really come down to a family discussion.

    Leave a comment:


  • Amethyst
    replied
    It'll be classed as chattels I believe - pretty much be treated on the lines of her pots and pans and ornaments etc. Presumably you'd like the case of documents ? Have you asked S3 for it ?

    otherwise who do you believe your sister was custodian of the case for ? the family as a whole ?

    Maybe a discussion about it and family history could be had and you could get access to digitally archive everything if she insists on holding on to the case ?

    des8 any ideas ?

    Leave a comment:

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