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After my father died, everything of s went to my

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After my father died, everything...
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.
Thank you!
Submitted: 2 years ago.Category: Estate Law
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Answered in 21 minutes by:
8/17/2015
Estate Lawyer: RayAnswers, Attorney replied 2 years ago
RayAnswers
RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 43,432
Experience: Texas lawyer for 30 years in Estate law
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Hi and welcome to JA. I am Ray and will be the expert helping you tonight.

This clause clearly makes this a gift to you.Regardless of the other paper I do not see how the executor could enforce this agreement you signed.The deceased clearly intended that no such gifts reduce the amount of your inheritance.If the executor tries to enforce this you need your own lawyer where probate is filed.

The lawyer would force them to withdraw any demand for repayment.The will would trump this and should serve as the final say on this matter.No way I would pay this back.The will indicated she did not intend to enforce this document and she wanted any funds here to be a gift.I would tell them you reviewed with a lawyer and they advised that you have no legal obligation under the terms of the Will here in Washington to repay this.Clearly she intended to gift these funds to you and your children.It was very generous and they have no basis to claim otherwise .The will here trumps any enforcement of the document.

I appreciate the chance to help you tonight.Please let me know if you have more follow up.Thanks again.

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Estate Lawyer: RayAnswers, Attorney replied 2 years ago

If you have to here get your own lawyer and argue the idea that the will controls.It does and it is clear she did not intend to enforce the agreement.She probably decided it was a good idea not to enforce it, maybe a change of heart in her final days.Nothing wrong with that.Remember the estate lawyer is not representing you here , I would not agree to pay this at all.

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Estate Lawyer: RayAnswers, Attorney replied 2 years ago
You argue the intent was clear under the law and it controls.
RCW 11.12.230
Intent of testator controlling.
All courts and others concerned in the execution of last wills shall have due regard to the direction of the will, and the true intent and meaning of the testator, in all matters brought before them.
Thanks again and good luck.You may decide to resolve this with them, but know the law is on your side here.If you want to avoid a fight and offer them a nominal sum thats an option.But keep it low I don't see they can prevail.
If you can leave a positive rating it is always much appreciated.
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Estate Lawyer: RayAnswers, Attorney replied 2 years ago
Lawyer referral, lawyer would seek legal fees from the estate if you prevail and you should here.
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You don't have to do anything here until you hear from them and see if they intend to try and enforce it.I just don't see them being able to argue anything else than it's a gift under the will.
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