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My mother passed away without a will or power of attorney, no life insurance..What do I do to claim/get her personal belongings?

Chattanooga, TN |

I am the only child my mom had. She passed away July 2012 (at the young age of 57), and it isn't known if she had a will or power of attorney, or life insurance. Prior to passing away, my mom lived with me for over a year until she sustained a spinal cord injury. She was placed into a nursing home in South Pittsburgh, TN, she lived there for several months until she was admitted into the hospital in Chattanooga, TN..where she later passed away. I have made attempts to get her personal belongings that 2 of her friends have but will not allow me to get them or have them. There are certain items that my mom gave to me & her 2 grandchildren. Also items that belonged to me that I gave her as gifts, & items that belonged to my deceased grandparents. What are my rights to her belongings?

I am disabled, on a very low fixed income, so I need to know if there are any attorneys/lawyers that would be able to assist me on a income based fee or some kind of assistance. This is very important to me and my family, my mother was my best friend and is missed dearly. Her personal belongings consist of furniture, jewelry, clothing, baby grand piano, electric power wheel chair, kindle fire, several cooking items, tv's, possibly money she had saved in the nursing home, pictures, alot of items that are not replaceable and have alot of sentimental value.

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Attorney answers 5


You should contact a probate attorney in the county where she resided or passed as there may be a small estate proceeding, and counsel may allow you to pay on credit cards. If she was in a nursing home for more time than Medicare covered, then the state welfare agency may have a claim to some or all assets, so you unfortunately need an attorney to walk you through the process.


You might consider contacting the legal aid society in Chattanooga about providing or finding an attorney to handle probating your mothers estate.

This answer does not constitute legal advice nor form an attorney client relationship. I am not your lawyer. If you have a legal issue in Tennessee you may contact me for a free consult.


You might ask the probate court to order the assets of the estate assigned to you. The problem is going to be proving ownership of items that have no title. I think you are going to need the help of a lawyer on this one.

James Frederick

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Consult a lawyer, and ask him to advise you and to consider the possibility of either a small estate affidavit or a probate of a will [if you can find one] as a muniment of title. Ask the local bar association to inquire of its list of lawyers whether anyone has knowledge of a will or preparing a will for your mother. You may need to sue the 'friends' for the items or possibly having a lawyer write a letter will get results.

These comments do not constitute legal advice. They are general comments on the circumstances presented, and may not be applicable to your situation. For legal advice on which you may rely consult your own lawyer.


You should contact a probate attorney in the county where she resided.

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