Ask Someone Else's Mom by Susan Writer

"Missing" Heirloom Causes Rift Between Brothers

DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My father and mother always kept their important papers and some jewelry in a safe deposit box at their bank. My mom passed away a few years ago and my dad late last fall. My older brother is the executor and he said he has looked in the safe deposit box and there isn’t anything of mine in there. I know that isn’t true, because there was a watch that was my grandfather’s that both he and my dad said would be mine when they were gone.

I know my brother has no interest in the watch other than what he can get for it by selling it. To me, it’s part of our family history and I want it so that I can pass it on to one of my own kids someday.

I spoke to my sister-in-law and she mentioned that my brother does have the watch and intends to sell it. She doesn’t agree with his decision, but she says that since he’s the executor and there’s nothing in the will specifically mentioning the watch, he figures he can do what he wants with it, so long as he divides the money evenly between him and me. I want the watch, but I don’t want to have to fight my brother for it. What else can I do to get my watch? --- WANT MY WATCH

DEAR WANT MY WATCH: This is the kind of situation that so often tears families apart after a close relative dies.

It sounds like you may have an ally in your sister-in-law. Perhaps she can help convince your brother that the right thing to do is to follow your father’s and grandfather’s wishes. However, if he claims he wasn’t aware of this long-standing promise, and if it’s not in the will, you might consider getting specific legal advice on what, if any, options you have in this situation.

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