Is my father entitled to get his property my brother took from him after my brother's death?
To clarify: my father didn't bequeath, give, or gift these to my brother in any way. He just "claimed" them as the son (he was undergoing chemo at the time and could not use them, but we didn't want to fight with him).
4 attorney answers
GIven that your father is still alive, there is a decent chance that he can explain the situtation to a court in declaration form attached to a motion should that become necessary. Keep in mind that a girlfriend doesn't have any standing in a probate unless there is a will that directs otherwise - the laws on intestacy favor the next of kin over boyfriends/girlfriends. In other words, it may be that the person entitled to petition the court for appointment as executor of the estate is in fact your father. Give a probate attorney a quick call for a real-time consultation to talk about the options.
Yes, your father is legally justified in asking for his tools to be returned to him. Because he never conveyed ownership of them in any way, these tools still belong to him. I know he will be sensitive to his son's recent death in making this request, and even perhaps provide a convenient way for his son's girlfriend to make the transfer.
I agree with everything Ms. Silva is saying. The Will/No Will question controls a lot. If there is a will then you will likely need to file a claim against the estate. If there isn't, I would just add that something it is better (more effective) to have at attorney draft a Demand Letter to request the tools. It's requires a lot less attorney time (and is, therefore, less expensive) and can just convince the other party that you're serious without engaging in all out litigation. Either way, it is better to do something relatively quickly rather than let a lot of time go by.
This communication is not to be interpreted as specific legal advise with regard to the matter-in-question. Nor does it in any way create an attorney-client relationship.
If your Dad truly did not gift the tools to your brother during his lifetime, and you can prove the tools belong to your Dad, the fact that your brother died doesn't change the ownership of the tools. If you ask for the tools back, brother's girlfriend could claim they were 1) gifted to brother, 2) never belonged to your dad and purchased by brother. If it becomes a dispute, it just depends on how much energy you want to put in to this. You also don't say if brother died with a will and if so, if these tools were mentioned in his will. If these tools were mentioned in this will, it becomes a bigger dispute if girlfriend was gifted these tools.