What are considered to be assets of an estate?
Question Details: My mother did not have a Will and did not own real property of any kind. Now, 1 of our siblings has gone to court and has been assigned Special Administrator. Her attorney is demanding that each person who was given any items, prior to and after my mother's death, return it to the Special Administrator so that she can have an auction and sell everything. My mom did have a $5000 life insurance policy where I was the sole beneficiary. I have paid for the funeral with these funds already. Do we have to return the personal items which are family keepsakes, furniture, a few antiques and the like?
Were you given the items before you mother's death? Then you don't need to return them. Your mother may gift anything she wants to any person while she is still alive. The Administrator has no power over what your mother did while alive.
If you took or were given by someone else (e.g. an aunt, an uncle, a sibling, etc.) any of your mother's items after her death, you would have to return those--you had no legal right to take or receive anything after her death, since anything she owned as of death had to, in the absence of a will, be distributed by the Adminstrator according to the rules for "intestate succession" (who gets what when there is no will).
Whle your mother was still alive, she was free to gift whatever of her assets that she chose. Accordingly, anything that she gave you outright (e.g. not on loan) is your to keep. That having been said, any items that you received after your mother died, needs to be returend as it is estate property. The administrator will then distribute all assets as per state "intestacy" law (i.e. the law that governs estates when someone dies without a Will).