Your instincts are good. If you sign the form, it sounds as though you will forever lose any right to claim a portion of your dad's estate. If your dad had more debts than assets, there might not be anything for you to claim. Consult with a local lawyer to get specific advice on your situation. Best wishes.
Rani K. Sampson (509) 663-5588 is a Washington attorney whose clients ask her to solve problems and negotiate difficult situations in real estate development, business formation and operation, estate planning, probate administration, and other matters. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question.
The best thing you can do is contact a local probate lawyer and bring that letter. Have that lawyer contact the lawyer who sent you the letter. Then your lawyer can explain to you exactly what's going on and whether you should sign it.
If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. Stephen Pearcy is licensed to practice law in California. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The response is for legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question.
This is a fairly common practice. The executor is entitled to money from the estate to defend any claims made against him/her. If all the money is distributed to the beneficiaries, there is nothing left to be used for that defense. So it is common to send out receipt (and often release forms, as well), which indicate that there are no issues. The money is then distributed. There are ways to protect yourself in this situation. If the executor cannot prove that the funds were distributed, the use of this procedure is not likely to cost you your inheritance. Having said that, it pays to be cautious. You might contact an attorney in Alabama for a consultation on how best to proceed. If the executor is represented by an attorney, you have some additional protection, because an attorney is not going to risk his/her license by participating in anything underhanded.
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