Question #178:I am struggling to find a way to be sure that my 83 year old father’s new wife doesn’t original artwork that was a gift to me and that I gave to my mother, who loved the work, and I did not have appropriate wall space. There was no family information on who received what after my mother’s death. After her death (Indiana) my then 81 year old father moved into an Independent Living complex, which my brother and I set up for him. I hung the artwork gifted to me on the walls. Very shortly after my mother died, my 81 year old father began living with a woman. She came to his complex and seeing the art wanted him to bring it with him to New York. He asked me if that was all right, and I said yes, thinking it would be good for him to have something from his previous life. After one year of living together, they decided to marry. Prior to the marriage he asked me if he could give the paintings to the new wife, who loved them. I said no, but he and she could continue to enjoy them. They then got married, and in the pre nuptials it states that upon his death ALL furnishings in the house go to her, and upon her death ALL furnishings (with the exception of another painting owned by my father) go to her estate. Essentially my father, without my knowledge, has signed away my paintings to her if he dies first; if she dies first my paintings go to her adult children. If there any sort of legal documentation or way around this? I do not have title to artwork as it was originally a gift to me from a now deceased friend. Would he have to prove ownership? Is there any kind of document that I could try to get my father to sign that would overrule the pre-nuptial? Thank you.

If your father is of sound mind you can simply have him return the painting to you. He has a right to transfer the painting to you while he is alive. From what you state, his new wife has a claim only to furnishings that are in the house at the time of death. A careful review of the prenuptial agreement will be necessary before I can render an opinion on how to proceed.
If you are living in the NYC metro area, please call me to discuss the matter at greater length.

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions