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Posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2015 by Peter Klenk

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: Who inherits my father’s pacemaker? My father was cremated, but the attendants first removed his pacemaker for safety purposes. My sister says she wants it so her son can take it apart, as he likes gadgets. After doing some snooping around, I think that she wants it to sell on the black market. Who has a right to the pacemaker? I don’t want my sister to sell my dad’s pacemaker on the black market.

I have to admit, this is a new one to me. Some research has shown me that there are no pacemakers approved by the FDA for multiple use in the USA. So, without more information about the specific pacemaker, I cannot tell you if a sale is even possible (legally). Let’s address your question about who owns the pacemaker.

If your father purchased the pacemaker, then it was his property at death. His property passes through his will. The pacemaker is likely a piece of personal property, so examine the terms of the will that address who gets personal property. If it all passes to you, then you can claim the pacemaker. If personal property is divided up between the children, then in general personal property is divided up in a friendly manner between the children.

In this case, a friendly division may be impossible. If you are to divide the personal property but cannot agree on how to do so, and you feel that your sister wants to take the pacemaker for an illegal purpose, then you do have the right to bring the matter before the Orphans’ Court Judge for a determination. It would be a good idea to have an attorney familiar with Orphans’ Court litigation to help you, as I imagine that this will be the first time this type of issue will have come up before the judge.

If you have any other questions about probate or other estate planning matters, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.

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