Unfortunately, we have an extremely adversarial relationship with the executrix of my late aunt's will, who also has a proven record of dishonesty in the extreme. Our question is, if we sign the standard New Jersey Release and Refunding Bond, what recourse do we have if the executrix decides at a later date that she wants the money back? Would we be entitled to an accounting in order to make the executrix prove that my aunt's estate is actually in deficit?
4 Answers from Attorneys
Don't sign a Release if you suspect that the estate was improperly administered. See a lawyer about seeking an accounting.
THIS RESPONSE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE, SINCE I DO NOT HAVE ALL OF THE INFORMATION THAT WOULD BE REQUIRED, AND I DO NOT HAVE A REPRESENTATION AGREEMENT WITH YOU.
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I would need to review the will to answer your question. If you are a residuary beneficiary, then I agree with the advice given above. However, if you merely recieved a cash legacy, then you are not entitled to an accounting, and signing the Refunding Bond is generally going to be a condition of receiving your cash distribution. In my experience, it is very unlikely that you would be required to pay money back to the estate following the distribution. However, if asked to refund your bequest, you would be entitled to an accounting to justify the request for payment back to the estate.
If the executor is dishonest, then you should have a lawyer look into this for you.
I would need more information to give you any guidance. These kinds of situations are really unpleasant, but you need to know what is going on before you sign off on anything.
I can help you with this. Give me a call, make an appointment to come see me, and let's get moving on this for you. No charge for the telephone call and no charge for the first office visit.
Robert Davies, Esq. 201-820-3460
The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
45 Essex Street, Suite 3 West
Hackensack New Jersey 07601
Please keep in mind that my response is just a general comment on your question, and not legal advice. I have answered based upon the law of the State of New Jersey where I practice; the laws in other states may be very different, and may result in very different outcomes. Your question and any response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship between you and this law firm. The exact details of your situation and things that you have not mentioned in your question can completely change the response I gave. You can not rely upon what I have written as legal advice, because I do not have all of the information that I need to advise you, I only have the very small amount of information that you put into your question. To get legal advice that you can rely on and use, please contact me directly.
I agree with the other authors. As a residual beneficiary you are entitled to an accounting and can compel one if you want. At least the accounting would show that all known estate obligations have been satisifed. The RB&R return provisions usually only apply to debts or obligations unknown at the time of distribution and which arise afterwards. Presuming the Executrix has advertised for creditors and there has been no response, the liklihood of being asked to return anything is minimal. Since there could be after-distribution claims, even getting a current accounting might not prevent a future claim. However, you would at least be informed of the possibility of a future claim. This is a response to an Internet question and the reply is not intended to be legal advice or as creating an attorney-client relationship.