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Old 08-22-13, 12:17 PM   #1
Nausicaa
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YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

So I need some brief legal counsel from the lawyers here. Your help is appreciated.

Background: I was adopted, and while I've had some contact with my birth family, for the most part I have no idea who they are. A few months ago I received a letter in the mail from an attorney indicating my grandfather had died, and I needed to sign a form agreeing that I would not contest the executor, or something along those lines. I signed it and didn't really think much about it, since I don't believe I was named in the will nor did I really feel entitled to anything.

Fast forward to yesterday, and I received another letter from the attorney, indicating the amount of funds to be distributed to three heirs, one of them being me (at least I think). There is a "Receipt and Release" form (form JA-2, New York) which I needed to sign in the presence of a notary, and which appears to entitle me to a not-insignificant sum of money. Needless to say I am reeling a bit from this news.

Basically, I'm wondering if any of the attorneys here have experience in this area, and would be able to decipher the legal jargon in the letter. It seems pretty straightforward to me, but I just want to cover my bases. It reads as follows:

Quote:
The undersigned, being of full age, sound mind and under no disability, and entitled to share in the estate of the above-named decedent as a: legatee under a will

a: Acknowledges receipt of money paid or property transferred or delivered as follows:
Money (Cash or check): $$$$$$
The following property_______ (valued at): $_____ [nothing here]
The foregoing is in full payment or distribution of: a legacy under paragraph third of the will or trust

b: Releases and discharges each fiduciary named above from all liability to the undersigned for any and all matters relating to or derived from the administration of the estate; waives the issuance and service of a citation to attend any and all proceedings for the judicial settlement of the account; and authorizes the Surrogate to make and enter a decree settling the account and fully releasing and discharging each fiduciary named above as to all matters embraced therein.
The top part seems pretty clear, but item b is confusing to me. I just want to be sure be sure signing this form is appropriate. I can request an accounting of the estate or object, but don't feel that is necessary.

Thoughts?
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Old 08-22-13, 12:51 PM   #2
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

Not my area of expertise, but it seems pretty straightforward, as you said. Since you didn't expect anything at all, this is all found money for you. Good for you!

Now go spend it on hookers and blow.
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Old 08-22-13, 12:57 PM   #3
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

Hey Nausicaa,

I'm another one of your long-lost relatives. Feel free to share some of that dough.
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Old 08-22-13, 01:02 PM   #4
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

boy, i thought i was lucky finding $63 on the street yesterday. good for you Nausicaa!!
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Old 08-22-13, 01:14 PM   #5
Nausicaa
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandoman View Post
Not my area of expertise, but it seems pretty straightforward, as you said. Since you didn't expect anything at all, this is all found money for you. Good for you!

Now go spend it on hookers and blow.
Thanks. Perhaps I should clarify that a check was not enclosed. The letter included with the form says "the Executor should be able to distribute funds", "soon after all heirs have signed releases".

The Executor to the estate is someone I know of, and I feel they are trustworthy based on my limited communications in the past, but I guess I am a little concerned about signing what appears to be a legal acknowledgement of receipt without actually having received anything. My googling seems to indicate this is appropriate procedure in the state of New York, however. Just looking for some assurance, I guess.

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Originally Posted by Rockmjd23 View Post
Hey Nausicaa,

I'm another one of your long-lost relatives. Feel free to share some of that dough.
Sure! To execute this transfer of funds, I will however require $20,000 to satisfy closing and processing fees. Please PM me and I will give you my address to send a check.

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Old 08-22-13, 01:16 PM   #6
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

Adopted kids catch all the breaks. I should be so lucky...









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Old 08-22-13, 01:32 PM   #7
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

Inheritances are kind of bittersweet. You get something, but someone has to die. In this case, you didn't seem to have much of any interaction with the deceased, so it's bound to be more sweet than bitter.

I look forward to your posts in the "Last thing you just bought..." thread.
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Old 08-22-13, 01:47 PM   #8
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

I'm not a lawyer or anything that resemble a lawyer, but to be asked to sign an acknowledgment of receipt when the check is not enclosed seems a little questionable. It's one thing to be asked to sign an acknowledgment of notice that you've been named and release the assets to the executor for final distribution, but signing an acknowledgment of receipt doesn't sound right at all.
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Old 08-22-13, 02:12 PM   #9
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

Your relative didn't happen to be a US businessman in Nigeria, who died tragically in an automobile accident, did he?
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Old 08-22-13, 02:18 PM   #10
Nausicaa
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

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Originally Posted by GoldenJCJ View Post
Adopted kids catch all the breaks. I should be so lucky...
Heh, I certainly can't complain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mndtrp View Post
Inheritances are kind of bittersweet. You get something, but someone has to die. In this case, you didn't seem to have much of any interaction with the deceased, so it's bound to be more sweet than bitter.

I look forward to your posts in the "Last thing you just bought..." thread.
Yeah, if anything I feel undeserving. It's that Catholic guilt.

It will go straight into my house fund. Might treat myself to a couple toys though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperJim88 View Post
I'm not a lawyer or anything that resemble a lawyer, but to be asked to sign an acknowledgment of receipt when the check is not enclosed seems a little questionable. It's one thing to be asked to sign an acknowledgment of notice that you've been named and release the assets to the executor for final distribution, but signing an acknowledgment of receipt doesn't sound right at all.
Yeah, that's my thought. More googling is making me pretty comfortable with it though. But I only trust Otter.

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Originally Posted by Ky-Fi View Post
Your relative didn't happen to be a US businessman in Nigeria, who died tragically in an automobile accident, did he?
Deposed King of Nigeria, who died tragically in an auto accident.

Who knew I was of Royal blood!
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Old 08-22-13, 02:19 PM   #11
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

Oh come on.....how much we talking?
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Old 08-22-13, 04:26 PM   #12
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

Not a lawyer, but you don't assume any of the deceased liabilities (if any), right? Gotta make sure about that too if you are signing something.
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Old 08-22-13, 04:41 PM   #13
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

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Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
Oh come on.....how much we talking?
Probably enough to warrant a "must be nice".
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Old 08-22-13, 04:51 PM   #14
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

If it's a not insignificant amount, I'd check with a local estate planning attorney to make sure a) it's legit, and b) you're not signing away something even better. You should be able to get a copy of the will too.
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Old 08-22-13, 04:57 PM   #15
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason View Post
If it's a not insignificant amount, I'd check with a local estate planning attorney to make sure a) it's legit, and b) you're not signing away something even better.
Surely you realize otter is more valid than a local "estate planning attorney."
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Old 08-22-13, 05:03 PM   #16
Nausicaa
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

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Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
Oh come on.....how much we talking?
Nothing too crazy, less than six figures. There are three heirs. Definitely a nice boost for someone in their 20's though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Autotelik View Post
Not a lawyer, but you don't assume any of the deceased liabilities (if any), right? Gotta make sure about that too if you are signing something.
No, the letter states the probate assets remaining are after payment of debts and expenses, as well as commission to the executor. I believe the release form, part B above, absolves the executor of any additional liabilities that may remain after payment to heirs. That's how I read it at least. So if the executor messed something up, I might be on the hook. Which is why I might want to request an accounting - but I probably won't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockmjd23 View Post
Probably enough to warrant a "must be nice".
I think an inheritance almost always warrants a "must be nice". Really didn't start this thread to brag or anything, I just had the letter notarized and was about to put it in the mail, then I thought maybe I should read up on it a bit and ask around before sending it.
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Old 08-22-13, 05:06 PM   #17
Nausicaa
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason View Post
If it's a not insignificant amount, I'd check with a local estate planning attorney to make sure a) it's legit, and b) you're not signing away something even better. You should be able to get a copy of the will too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Th0r S1mpson View Post
Surely you realize otter is more valid than a local "estate planning attorney."
Thanks. That's why I made this thread - I'm young and have never dealt with this kind of thing before. Plus I know Attorney's in the Chicago area post here.

I think I will call the attorney tomorrow at minimum.
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Old 08-22-13, 06:47 PM   #18
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

Yeah, but that is just JasonF. You can't trust that guy.
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Old 08-22-13, 09:12 PM   #19
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

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Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
Yeah, but that is just JasonF. You can't trust that guy.
Don't look at me. I don't think probate law was even on the bar exam. Now, if you've got a question about the proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure intended to address discovery burdens, I'm your man.

But yeah, it looks to me like you're promising not to sue the executor if anything goes wrong. I wouldn't think a release like that would be enforceable, particularly if the wrong is due to an intentional or reckless act by the executor.
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Old 08-22-13, 11:37 PM   #20
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Re: YALT: Inheritance from "long-lost" relative

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Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Now, if you've got a question about the proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure intended to address discovery burdens, I'm your man.
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