Never received anything from will, now probate attorney wants us to sign off? - AgingCare.com

Never received anything from will, now probate attorney wants us to sign off?

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My brother and I have 2 step-siblings. Dad died in 2003 and left everything to my stepmother (there was a newer will written which she hid and filed an old one that was more to her benefit, but alas since we couldn't prove it, there was nothing we could do). She died in 2011 and if there was any money left in her estate, we kids were each to get a fourth. Stepsister is executor and has not been forthcoming with any information (just says there wasn't anything left). 5 years later, we get a letter from the probate attorney requesting that we sign and notarize that we received our just distribution and relinquish any further claim to the estate. My brother and I never got ANYTHING, no records of any assets or expenses paid...is this a normal thing to do to close the estate, because I never heard of such a thing. How can we find out if we were due anything? I would hire an attorney to send a letter, but if there is truly nothing left, the fees would just be money down the drain. There is a clause in her will that says no accounting can be forced unless a fiduciary agent was used, so since my stepsister was executor, does that mean we can't have access to any of that information and just have to "trust" her that nothing was left? It's highly unlikely that there wasn't anything, as she had significant assets at one time. I'm frustrated, confused and angry because I thought this was all a done deal, and here it is in my face again. What should I do? Do you think the attorney is pressuring closing the case so he can get final payment, or are our stepbrother and stepsister trying to pull a fast one? And why would they need our signatures if everything had been distributed as directed?

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Just wanted to let everyone know...when we requested the accounting, she decided after so many years, out of the goodness of her heart, that she would stroke us a check for the full amount! I almost fell over! The attorney that said there was nothing left was trying to pull a fast one. I found out after some research that he had been disbarred in a couple of states for tax evasion and failure to pay child support. What a guy. But I'm grateful that it worked out. Thanks for everyone's advice and support!
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Wow, amicable, sounds like your sneaky step-siblings and their attorney were trying to trick you and your brother into signing away the right to have an accounting of the estate performed, and also your ability to collect any share of the inheritance that may be owed to you. So sorry you are going through that and all the stress it involves. I am always amazed at the greediness that rears its ugly head when it comes to death and inheritance. Some people just will do anything to get their hands on a little cash. A couple of people in my family and my husband's family are the same way...all about the money. My dad had a stepmother who inherited all of his dad's money and valuables. She had nothing coming in to the marriage, but guess who got almost nothing when she died? My dad, the only living son of the man that earned all that money. I urged him to challenge the will, and he did, but just got a small settlement. So it happens all the time. Some people just know how to weave their way in and make sure they get all the money. My husband's brother just did that very thing...he got 100% of their parents' estate, four other siblings excluded, my husband one of them. My sister is in the process of doing the very same thing...we will see how that plays out. But I won't be surprised if she gets it all. She is just that greedy!! And I'm not, so I lose. But I still have my self-respect!! I hope you and your brother are able to battle against the vultures!! Good luck to you both.
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So here's an update...called the probate court and they asked me what form we received, and it was called Receipt of Beneficiary/Waiver of inventory and final accounting. The clerk said if we sign it, we agree not to get anything, which is what I figured. She said that if we DON'T sign it, it goes to court and an accounting MUST be done. I hope stepsister realizes the accounting will cost money. Since we haven't gotten anything anyway, we don't have much to lose. How much can an accounting cost and how much trouble would it be? But by not signing, at least if there was one dollar left, we'd each get a quarter...lol...unless the accounting takes up the rest of the money. Sigh.
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Same thing happened to us as happened to you, Amicable. Hugs.
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Thank you all so much for your extensive input...I appreciate it more than words can say. I, too, have a feeling that something has been withheld (not a bit surprised after having been lied to in the past). I know she was not on Medicaid and had a good many assets, but stepsister maintains SM was taken advantage of by someone and there wasn't much left...anyone want to guess who might have been the one taking advantage? Humpf! It wouldn't have been so bad, except that my dad had an interest in some property and would have gotten quite a settlement from that had he not died just a few weeks prior to closing, and so the proceeds from OUR family's property have now gone to benefit HER children...trying hard not to be bitter and just want to have it behind me...don't really care that much about money but my brother sure could use it. It's the principle of the thing that really gets my goat.
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I would definitely ask for an accounting through your lawyer who will phrase it correctly. Do not sign off on anything. My gut feeling is you have been had.
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Amicabke, Like Rainmom, I'm amidst probate as well. There are some things you probably can do without having an attorney. It is going to require some work on your part but totally do - able imho.

probably the easiest is if you know the case # then call probate court to ask how to request the docket filing for the case. The docket filing will be a listing with an associated # of what was done by timeline with a filing # attached & with time stamp as to when received by court and filing # for items signed off by court. Like when the atty submitted the Original will has its own # and then when the judge signed off appointment of the type of administration will have it's own #. There will be all sorts of items in the docket. Most you don't need to bother with. What you want is the 1. List of Appraisal/Appraisement, 2. Claims Due the Estate & 3. Claims Against the Estate. That's where all the $ details are. What these are called can vary by state but you get the idea......If her atty is asking for you to do a final sign-off, all the above 3 have been filed. PC can charge you for these & yiu need the docket # to get them. Call PC & speak with staff as to how to get. I'd bet they are available for very little cost as an email attachment download. Like $ 5.00 each. PC is public records court, I think in all states, so should be no issue in you or anyone else getting these.

If you do get an atty to do this, if they do probate they likely will have an online account with PC, so they or their paralegal just quickly enters a request for docket & items and gets in a download usually within 24 hrs. No need to go to the courthouse costs. Often other than the appointment of executor & letters testamentary issued (you do an oath in person), there is no other courthouse visits as everything is entetered via the probate atty on-line account to the court.

But back to yiour ?, so you have the 3 items, You then go over the 3 to see if anything is questionable to ask the probate atty. specifics as to the spefici items eithin the claims based on what was entered in the 3 items. The items have to have supporting documentation...so if it shows Cousin lowlife had a 15k claim against the estate, there has to be a documnent on this. I'd send the request via fax & certified mail with the return registered receipt ($8.00 at uspo for the combo). It is not your cost to get the atty to do this, the executor is responsible to pay the atty. They need your signature to close out so they will need to respond to your request. You can go total all bad witch nuclear on this if you find obvious & clear discrepancies in the filings & you have the personality for going nuclear.

If you don't know the PC # you can request from probate atty but if you think it could cause issues, you can find it on your own. You can call the courthouse to get it altough this seems to often be dog chasing their tail to get the answer. I'd suggest you try calling first & if it doesn't work then find it via the Notice to Creditors How NOC is done depends on your states laws but it should have appeared at least once in whatever publication(s) is/are considered of enough circulation to get NOC placement. By this I mean it does NOT have to be the wider circulation daily paper that gets the NOC. For my moms county, there are 4 publications that can get NOC. Often 1 is lots cheaper and gets most independent administration probate NOC. If you live in a smaller town, there is likely going to be 1 paper that does all legal notices for the county. Google NOC and your state or county & see what comes up.

About the IRS, the executor does not necessarily need to do a last filing. If they were on Medicaid, their taxable income is probably going to be below the threshold required for tax filing needed. If they die early in the year, the same thing could happen so no filing needed.

If their old bank account is a POD, whomever is the POD can continue to leave the account open. The POD SS# now get associated with the account, if the POD is going to be the executor, this works really well so no IRS ein needed. This is what we did for my moms estate & it was a bank officer who suggested to do it this way. I too assumed the IRS EIN had to happen but not so. Now I waited to put in my own funds to pay for estate administration expenses till I was named executor & got letters testamentary. Bank kept an original of letters too. This has really worked out well as everything is there to track for probate & years past as well.

If there is $ in the estate, the executor probably can get a draw for their administration once appointed. I was executor for an aunt ages ago and it was a draw & about 5% of final estate value plus expenses. If they died & were on Medicaid, there isn't going to likely be any money for estate administration. Executor does this basically for free. But executor can do their own claim against the estate for travel & MIE (meals & incidental expenses) based on federal rate for state. If they died & were on medicaid and had a home (so MERP will be involved), it's kinda important to do this as an executor related claim will usually be paid first from assets of the estate (the house) before others including MERP. If your state is a level of claim probate state, executor is class 1or 2 claims & must be settled before others with lower claim placement. If you go once a month to check on house and probate runs for months or even a couple of years, the travel & MIE will add up & not insignificantly.
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Okay , I could be completely wrong here but as executor of my moms will I've started to research the process. I understand it to work roughly like this: when there are assets that are not pre set with beneficiary clauses - like when a specific name is put on an account as beneficiary prior to death - the executor must file for probate in court. During this time newspaper notice of death is done, a bank account is set up something like "estate of Jane Doe", assets are gathered and put into the account, final taxes are filed with the IRS. Then all assets are listed along with IRS ok and a copy of the will along with projected totals per beneficiary - often a judge awards the executor a 2 - 4% off the top as a fee (an executor can ask for no fee at this time if desired) after review a judge will approve and money can be dispersed. This is my very, very loose understanding and I'm sure I'm missing a lot of details. I do not know, for instance - how it could be actually be followed up on that checks were actually written and dispersed. However, if there were assets to be had probate almost always has to be filed. Places like banks won't close accounts and disperse funds just cause someone shows up with a will and a death certificate - they will insist at a minimum, of writting their own check to "the estate of.." Then the check can not be cashed only deposited into the probate account of the same "estate of..."name. Long story short - it's not as easy to rip someone off named in a will as the movies make it look. You should be able to contact the county where your SM passed to see if probate was even done. Answering the lawyers letter with a great big "huh?" may be quicker and easier though - at least to start with, lol! Good luck - seems my new saying of late is: money surrounding death and wills seems to bring out the worst in people.
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I would do the same thing as Glad recommended, making it clear that you will NOT sign off on anything.
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Thanks, that is good advice :)
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