After my father died, everything of his went to my step-mother. We had three kids in college, and we asked my step mother if she could help with their tuition. She had us sign a paper stating that nothing had to be repaid, however, after she died, that money would be deducted from our share of our inheritance. (in other words, it was an advancement of our inheritance). We agreed and signed the paper.
She passed away six months ago and in reading over her will, we found that she put in the following statement: "No Advancements. No lifetime gift by me shall be deemed to be an advancement against the share of any person beneficially interested in my estate
, whether or not there is any writing by me to the contrary."
We BELIEVE that this was added to her will AFTER we had signed the paper regarding the advancement. She re-did some of her will shortly before she died and we believe that clause may have been added at that time. But, we're not positive of that. Because no one else received any form of an advancement, it seems likely she was referring to us.
I asked my father's lawyer if he felt we needed to repay it, but he said that the executor would have to decide since he does not represent us- he represents the estate. Unfortunately, the two executors (my older sister and my oldest step-sister) are also beneficiaries and clearly would like for that money to be put back in.
My feeling is that if that paragraph was added before we signed the papers, then maybe we do owe it. However, if she added it after we signed the paper, then we shouldn't owe it. My husband feels that it doesn't matter when she put in the clause, that she clearly didn't want anything to be repaid.
I want to do whatever she wanted us to do, but I'm not sure how to interpret what she wrote. There is no one else that had an advancement- only us- which makes me think that she might have changed her mind about our repaying it. One of my other sisters had been disowned by my father, and my step mother had her added back in shortly before her death. It's probable that the advancement clause was written at that time.
Thoughts? None of us know how to handle this but we all agree that we don't want things tied up in court. We also don't want to have to pay hundreds of dollars for an attorney. If we owe it, then we'll gladly pay it back. But, if we don't owe it- $30,000, is a lot of money!
We'd appreciate any advice or comments you may have on this situation.