I am in a will and have receives some of the money by taking a car. when I signed a paper that said that it was part of my money I did not have my glasses. When I got home they had threw in a sentence that said that I will wait till the house sells. So my question is can I ask to see the account and where the money is going because I know there was money there
2 Answers from Attorneys
It's your own fault when you choose to sign legal papers without glasses (and even worse, without showing them to a lawyer) so you probably are stuck with what you signed. At this point, you need to pay a lawyer to review what you signed, and may end up paying far more for legal help than if you had gone to the lawyer first.
First, any distribution prior to the closure of the estate is made at risk. What this means is that if the personal representative distributes money and later finds out that he/she has other debts then you may have to give the property back. If you don't return the property, then the personal representative may be personally liable. So good personal representatives will be cautious. You were probably allowed to get the car because it is a personal item and not worth very much. However, any larger inheritance of money will have to wait.
I agree with Attorney Ashman that you are responsible for reading any document that you sighed. You will get no sympathy from the courts that you did not have your glasses. On being given the document, you should have advised that you would have to review it and then you should have reviewed it carefully. If you did not understand it then you should have gone to a lawyer. The fact that you hurried to sign makes me suspect that you could not wait to get your hands on what you thought was your whole inheritance and you went ahead and signed. I am not judging as I don't know the facts but its a presumption nonetheless based on the facts which you relayed.
You ask to see an accounting. I don't know when the deceased died or when probate was done so I do not know if an accounting is due yet. What you need to do, if you now suspect something, is to go to the county/state where the estate is pending and make a copy of the estate file. There should be a will, probate petition and an order granting letters testamentary.
Within 90 days of the probate petition, the personal representative should file an inventory of the deceased's assets. This should tell you exactly what the deceased had and whether there was money as you claim. And even if there was money, you do not indicate if the deceased owed anyone any money - this could be for taxes, funeral expenses, family/spousal allowance or medical bills incurred in the last year of death. These things all have to be paid before you get a time. I also don't know if final tax returns have been filed or if there is going to be any liability there either.
Accountings are filed with the court, usually one year after death. If the estate takes more than one year to administer, annual accountings are filed. When the estate is ready to be completed, then a final accounting is filed. There are a few ways to do this - either the personal representative will send you a copy of the notice of accounting and you will be given an opportunity to object to it OR the personal representative will ask you to sign a release. Distribution of any final monies owed to you will then be made as soon as the account is closed. The personal representative needs to present the signed release to the court to get the confirmation so if you are unwilling to sign one then the personal representative will have to send you the accounting and give you a chance to object.
If you have any questions upon your initial review of the will, inventory and preliminary accounting that the estate has been mismanaged or assets are missing, then you need to go and see a probate lawyer who practices in the county/state where the estate is pending. Pay him/her to review the file and advise you.
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