When a loved one passes away, more often than not they will also leave behind a number of personal effects. These personal effects include things like clothes, furniture, cutlery and all of the contents of their residence. In some broader Wills, provision will be made under it to determine who (if anyone) receives the Deceased’s personal effects (or ‘chattels’). Where this is not the case, executors and beneficiaries alike are often at a loss as to what rights they have with regards to the Deceased’s chattels, and what they are permitted to do with them.
Who Owns the Deceased’s Personal Effects?
In Victoria, when a person passes away the entirety of his or her Estate is passed into the effective control of his or her Executor. Unless there is some confusion as to ownership, this will also include all of their personal effects.
While the personal effects of the Deceased may be in your control, this does not grant you ‘ownership’ over them. Instead, it may be said that you hold them ‘in trust’ for the benefit of the Will’s beneficiaries.