WI laws dealing with abandoned personal property, bailee/bailor, duty to protect and preserve personal property

Asked about 6 years ago - Prairie Du Sac, WI

We have a sandblasting and painting business, one customer had several items at our place waiting to be done when he had the $. This person died in May, we have contacted the person in charge of his estate several times to come and get the items or let us know what they want done with them. Is it legal for us to get rid of them since they have never come to pick it up?

Attorney answers (1)

  1. David Alexander Phipps

    Contributor Level 12

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . No. You are a bailee. Your obligation as a bailee is to protect and preserve the property and to return it on demand. You have several option.

    1. Abandoned property belongs to the state. You can notify the state agency in charge of abandoned property and ask what they want you to do. They might tell you that they don't have the right to take possession until some number of years have passed.

    2. You can ship the goods to the bailor, at the bailor's last known address. There is a risk in this option. You could become liable for the value of the goods. But that risk might be small if the value is low, or if the address has some responsible person there who will take possession.

    3. You can notify the executor or personal representative in writing that if the goods are not taken out of your possession within thirty days you will be charging storage fees and will be invoicing the estate. Then send regular invoices to the executor or personal representative.

    4. You might decide to sell the goods and simply take your chances. If someone who has the right to the property someday demands the money, pay it. If nobody bothers, then the money belongs to the state after the statutory number of years has passed.

    This answer must not be relied on as legal advice for the reasons posted here: http://mcgyverdisclaimer.blogspot.com . And I am not your attorney.

    David

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