The cover letter from the attorney should have stated the funds will be distributed to you upon the attorney's receipt of the Waiver. Additionally you should have received an informal accounting showing the funds received and spent by the Personal Representative during the administration of the estate, and a proposed schedule of distribution to the heirs or beneficiaries. So long as you have received all of this information and any other information that you require to feel comfortable signing the form, then it is permissible to sign and return the form to the attorney. If you have any doubts or questions that remain unanswered, do not sign the form and obtain independent legal advice at once.
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As crazy as it sounds, it is customary. Attorneys want to make sure they get that receipt, so they ask you to sign it before you get your money. I don't practice that way anymore because I wouldn't want to sign a receipt before I got the money.
You should not waive a final accounting unless you are comfortable with doing that. If you are comfortable, then please sign the waiver because an accounting is a lot of work.
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The forms you were sent are not uncommon in a probate proceeding. You should have received a copy of the Will and an inventory of the estate assets. You should also have been kept, relativity, up to date regarding the proceedings and therefore you should have a good understanding of what remains in the estate.
The Petition for Discharge allows the estate to be closed. Your sister signed an agreement with the attorney for representation which should have included a fee agreement. Many attorneys and PRs follow the FL Statutes regarding compensation. If you don't already know how much each is being compensated, just ask. If they followed the statues the fees should be considered reasonable.
Many attorneys will request that you waive a full accounting of the estate to save on cost and time. If you have questions or concerns, you can call your sister or the attorney to get a verbal accounting. For example, your sister or the attorney should be able to tell you that the estate started with X, less creditors and expenses of Y, so you will be getting Z.
Many attorneys wait until the estate is closed before making a final distribution to account for unexpected issues.
Keep in mind that if you request an accounting, object to compensation, request a hearing, or anything of the like, it will cost the estate money. If you hire an attorney, it will come out of your pocket unless the court orders compensation from the estate.
As I stated earlier, the attorney or the PR should be able to answer your questions verbally. If you are satisfied by their answers, sign the documents. If you still have questions, you can hire your own attorney and you can request an accounting.
You can call my office if you would like 727-822-8987.
This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Florida Attorney practicing in areas of Estate Planning, Elder Law, Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, and Business Law. www.ferraezlucas.com The information provided is for educational purposes and not intended to provide legal advice or to create an attorney client relationship. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office should you like to discuss your Florida legal matter further. Actual legal advice can only be provided after completing a comprehensive consultation in which all of the relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.
Sending the Waiver prior to the funds is common practice, however I would inquire about a informal accounting, the amount of your share and when it will be sent. You typically would recieve this information along with the Waiver. As a beneficiary you are entitled to request an actual formal accounting and not at all required to sign such Waiver.
Waivers are executed to expedite the probate process. Ask for a copy of the distribution check before signing. Creditors, the Personal Representative and the Personal Representative’s attorney are paid first.
Yes it is fairly common to sign sign these documents before you receive a distribution. If you believe there has been something done incorrectly or the numbers don't appear to add up based upon what the attorney has explained to you, then I would probably hold off on signing these important documents until you receive more information. The personal representative is under a fiduciary obligation to make the distribution to the beneficiaries and failing to do so can have serious repercussions.