My husband as well as his sister were both made executors of their parents will. His father died first, followed by my husband. My husband's mother died this year leaving my sister-in-law as the sole surviving executor. I am upset because my sister-in-law has informed me she intends to keep personal photographs that were gifted to my mother-in-law by my husband and I, being our side of the family. Is she entitled to do this?

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I'm very sorry for the losses the family has suffered.

Your late husband and you gave your MIL (a collection of) photographs of your side of the family. It seems so unlikely that you wouldn't have your own prints of favourite photographs: were the ones your SIL wants to keep presented in a special album or lovely frames, or were they very high quality prints, anything like that? Presumably there is some particular sentimental or aesthetic value to them.

Your SIL has informed you that she intends to keep this collection. You are upset about that.

Have you told your SIL that you are upset because you yourself would like to keep them?
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Sorry - me, again!

I've been thinking of your situation. Of course, the path of least resistance would be to just have copies of the photos made.

However - if that’s not an option for some reason or if other items come into dispute there are likely points during the probate process when you can make your objections known.

Assuming legal probate is being utilized.

I am am basing this on my experience with Oregon probate law so it may differ in your state.

First you should know the language in the will as it applies to personal items. That might solve the
problem right there.

Next - typically an executor must put together an inventory of items of value and/or items bequeathed. It is submitted to probate court. Beneficiaries are sent this list of inventoried items and must sign off on it before probate can continue. So here’s an opportunity to bring up any missing items.

Then - at the very end of the process -before a probate judge will release an executor from their legal duties - all beneficiaries must sign off saying they received their inheritance as it was intended by the deceased. This sign-off is sent to the court and reviewed by a probate judge. Again - another opportunity.

Still - I would encourage you to settle this dispute as amicably as possible. Wills and inheritances seem to bring out the worst in people during a time when they really should be pulling together.
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She may have just assumed they are copies of ones you already have and would like to add them to her collection of family photos because she likes them, not because she is trying to be hurtful. Just tell her you would like to see them first and make copies of any you don't have.
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And, no.

To specifically answer your queation - unless the will says something along the line of “personal items are to be dispersed at the discretion of the executor...” then no - she does not have the right to cherry pick items for herself.
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MargaretMcKen Dec 2018
Well no again. Unless there are personal items dealt with in the will, then everything falls into the estate, to be managed by the executor of the will. The executor can put them all in a skip if they want, and it often happens. The important thing is to bury the hatchet, repair the family links, and get it happening on a sensible and sensitive basis.
I was the executor for both of my parents estate.

As is typical, when daddy passed everything went to my mother. Had my mother passed first then the reverse would have occurred.

Mom gave things to my brothers and me along the way in her final few years.

My mothers will didnt address specific items - just an even three way split and a sentence stating her children could have “mementos”.

Luckily, everyone acted like mature adults and there was no fighting for any items.

Still - I made it a rule that if any of the items that my mother still had at the time of her death had been a gift from one of her children - that item would return to the gifter.

I doubt there are any laws laws regarding this - beyond what’s stated in a will but it just seems like the decent thing to do. In my opinion.
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What kind of personal pictures would you have given MIL that you already didn't have a copy of. I am still sorting thru pictiures of my MIls and my Moms throwing out duplicates I already have. Arguing with my husband that I should keep a framed picture of Moms 50th with all the Aunts and Uncles. I have a copy! Why do I want another one. Pictures of nieces and nephews Mom had on her wall, I have copies and the parents involved don't want them, they have copies.

As Executor, it doesn't give her the right to take what she wants. Her job is to execute the will as written. I think you are entitled to anything you gifted MIL. I am curious to the reason she would want them. Because her brother is in the picture and she doesn't have a copy? Did u ask her why?
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We scanned photos, uploaded to the drugstore and had prints made. Or you could save them to something like Dropbox so multiple family members could access and save. Everyone gets photos and you avoid drama that doesn't need to be.
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