I have a few pieces of Jewelry that belong to a lady that passed
away last week. I am not sure what the proper protocol should to
Any input would be greatly appreciated and considered.
Thank you, Angela Hampton Where there is a very very slight hint of
fall in the air.
Contact the executor of the estate. That person should then direct
you what they want to do with the property.
It's reasonably simple in my admittedly non-lawyerly interpretation.
The jewelry belongs to her estate, whatever and whoever that may be
If you had it in for work to be done, I'd contact the executor of
the estate and find out if they want to move forward with whatever
it was, before you do anything.
If it was done and waiting pickup, contact the executor, let them
know you have it, and how much is due, for what service.
Should be reasonably straightforward.
The items were entrusted to you by the deceased during her lifetime,
for whatever reason.
Your are required to continue to hold them, until whoever is the
beneficiary of her estate, has the legal title to receive them.
Then, when that has been proved, hand over the items only when a
proper reciept is given to you for them..
If you have done work for the deceased on these items, for which you
are entitled to be paid, you need to present a bill to whoever is
settling the estate.
If you pay insurance to cover customers items in your care you are
entitled to some payment for storage.
Any request from relatives to hand over the items without the above
conditions has to be refused.
Put all transactions and answers to similar requests in writing on
your headed paper and keep hard copies.
Emails wont do.
Contact the surviving family members.
You might consider a letter or phone call to her executor or family
letting them know the situation. Depending on your policy, you might
also request a death certificate (much like a bank requires to avoid
fraud) at time of pickup. The funeral home should be able to help
connect you to the family.
If not, sending a letter to the customer's address on file should
Please accept my condolences. I know I have become very attached to
many of my clients and would be very sad if something happened to one
The jewelry should be returned to a representative of the estate of
the deceased, ie. the executor, as it may be listed in the will.
If she has a husband I would contact him. If not then I would try to
find out who is handling the estate and contact them. If there is any
money owed you for work done make sure you get paid before releasing
the jewelry. Just be honest is my advice. Might pay off in the long
Angela & All,
I, too, have encountered this with a longtime client. I notified her
family, immediately, upon hearing of her passing. I then informed
them of her diamond wristwatch repair. My client had notbeen able to
get into retrieve it and the family didn't know about the repair. It
was quite valuable as the husband(now deceased) had given it asan
anniversary gift years before. The children were very grateful and I
was happy to get it back to them. And the repair charge was taken
care of. This also happen in a store that I worked for. The gentleman
brought it in for a battery and never returned. When we got ahold of
the family, the sister was happy to get it back. In both cases, there
was much sentiment attached to the items. It was like we gave back a
piece of thefamily member that was now gone. It may take a bit of
sleuthing toreturn it but it's worth it for all involved.
Jo-Ann Maggiora Donivan
Are you in the US? If so, and if the pieces were with you for
repairs or the like, they become part of her estate and thus should
be returned to her next of kin. The funeral director can probably put
you in touch with them.
The executor should have a formal, legal document from the proper
authorities that indicates their legal role - and after being shown
this you can then present them with the items and/or bill.
I was executor of my late Mother's estate, and there is a time limit
on when bills can be presented to be paid - so IMMEDIATELY send the
bill to your late client's address! If it is not presented within
that time period, it does NOT have to legally be paid!
You don't have to worry about figuring out who the executor is -
just send to the client's address c/o Executor of (client's name)
and they'll get it. I would be specific about what you have and what
you expect as they may have NO clue!
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
It belongs to her estate. Contact the family, get the contact info
of the executor, and arrange for him or her to pick it up. Get a
I've no idea of the legal requirements, but as someone who has
served as an executor of a relatives will, heres what I would have
appreciated in a similar circumstance.
If you have the womans phone number or address, a message to one of
them would most likely be received by the persons executor (it would
suggest regular mail if you have an address) stating that you have
the jewelry, the circumstances (i. e., repair, cleaning,
consignment, etc.), any money owed and your contact
Presumably the executor would then try to contact you for more
I would not just give the jewelry to a friend or relative of the
deceased on their promise to see it disposed of, and I would get a
written receipt describing what was handed over, to who, in what
condition (i. e., pre or post repair) and the amount of money paid,
if any. Plus any other that would protect you.