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Family items and residential care

I'll try and keep it brief.  My step father-in-law died a couple of years ago, leaving my mother-in-law a life interest in the property.  MiL has now gone into residential care.  She never had her name on anything to do with the property, despite being married to FiL for over 30 years.  It was all to go to his kids.  Fine ...

But the thing is, she did have some personal possessions that are basically family pieces (passed down to her).  They really aren't very valuable, probably all told less than £500, little things like an embroidery, photographs, a few ornamental pieces.  Anyway, FiLs kids (or someone) seem to have moved into the house now MiL is in residential - it's just round the corner from where I live, so I walk past it and have noticed.  They won't talk to us.  They just seem to think everything belongs to them.  Are we able to recover the (worthless) family heirlooms?


  • MEM62
    MEM62 Forumite Posts: 4,510
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    Are we able to recover the (worthless) family heirlooms?
    If your question relates to any legal rights you would have a bun fight on your hands proving ownership.  Your best (and perhaps only) chance of recovering the items is by contacts with the house occupants.    
  • Sea_Shell
    Sea_Shell Forumite Posts: 8,872
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    Does someone have power of attorney for her?   Managing all her finances etc.

    Does she have capacity to remember what's her property?    What happened to all her other random stuff... clothes and other personal items?

    I think "talking" might be the only way to resolve this.   If that fails, I'm not sure how you can resolve it.
    How's it going, AKA, Nutwatch? - 12 month spends to date = 3.34% of current retirement "pot" (as at end August 2023)
  • Malthusian
    Malthusian Forumite Posts: 10,644
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    edited 7 August at 11:34AM
    Assuming it is the stepchildren who are in the property, and not random squatters, have you made them an offer for them?

    The items may legally belong to your mother, but the reality is that possession is 9/10ths of the law when it comes to personal items of sentimental value only. 

    I would start from the assumption that they have disappeared and be happy if you manage to get them back. Unfortunately the time to secure them may have been when she was moved into care originally. Spilt milk now.

    Who are the trustees of the trust who owns the property? The other option is to try to get them to let you into the property - but they could well be the same people who are now inside it. On the other hand, if the building has actually been occupied by random squatters, it's the trustees' job to get rid of them.
  • lisyloo
    lisyloo Forumite Posts: 29,351
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    have you explained that you only want some worthless sentimental items?
    They might be happy with that if they know that's all you want.
  • poppystar
    poppystar Forumite Posts: 1,120
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    Just out of interest - does a life interest trust end when someone goes into residential care? 

    In this case, how did the step relatives know she had moved into residential care? And that this was permanent? Was it you who informed them and ended the LIT? 

    I fear that if there was stuff that belonged to her and was of sentimental value to her/you then it needed to be removed when she went in to the care home. Do you have Power of Attorney for your mother in law ? 
  • Ginsipper007
    Ginsipper007 Forumite Posts: 32
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    Thanks for the advice.  Pretty sure it's not squatters, as the house is worth close to £1 million, and FiL's kids have kept a close eye on it - including often reminding us when we there before MiL went into residential that we wouldn't be getting anything.  That bit isn't the issue, it's the small family things.

    And I don't know the answer to the question about what happens to a property when someone with a life interest goes into permanent residential care.  She doesn't have capacity.  One of the FiL's kids has PoA.

    Given what you've all said, I'll ask her ex-husband (who's my partner's actual parent) to speak to the step FiL's kids about the stuff, as some of it actually came down through his family.
  • Malthusian
    Malthusian Forumite Posts: 10,644
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    poppystar said:
    Just out of interest - does a life interest trust end when someone goes into residential care? 
    Depends on the terms of the trust, but it is quite likely that it will have ended when the life tenant moved into residential care.
    In most cases, the income that could be generated from the house won't put much of a dent in the life tenant's care costs, and the entire point of the trust is to preserve the capital for the remainderpeople (which means not spending it on the life tenant's care fees). So there wouldn't be much point in having the trust continue once the life tenant had moved into residential care.
  • Alphatauri
    Alphatauri Forumite Posts: 71
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    Given that the items are nominal value and are MILs personal property have you tried writing to the family/trustees explaining that when MIL went into the home she forgot to take them with her. Technically they are her personal possessions and not part of FILs estate. It is a reasonable request and hopefully a decent person would return them. 
  • Ginsipper007
    Ginsipper007 Forumite Posts: 32
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    There not really the sort of things you could take, some of them require a fair bit of room.

    Thanks everyone for your advice.
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