Charlotte, NC asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Rhode Island

Q: Is a General Release form that's signed by me (and witness) a binding document?

I'm an estate beneficiary and was promised by the probate attorney that I would receive a check for a certain amount upon my signing (with witness) the General Release form per Rhode Island Probate Court. I performed as asked and mailed the form back. The attorney later emailed me stating that she made an error and the actual amount of the check is to be significantly less than that shown on the form. She asked me if the lower amount was acceptable. I responded by asking her at what point is a legal document an actual legal document and when isn't it to which she did not answer. Also, I am wondering if I was to use an attorney for any reason, which state would the attorney need to be from in such a case?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Albin Moser
Albin Moser pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Providence, RI
  • Licensed in Rhode Island

A: You are bound by the release you signed only if you get the money stated in it. The attorney for the executor or administrator is saying no, you won't get that amount of money, you will get something less. That means that the release is not binding on you. Unless you sign a release for the new (lower) amount the estate will remain open for the time being.

If the new (lower) amount is accurate and the previous (higher) amount was inaccurate, then there is nothing you can do to make the estate pay you the higher, incorrect amount.

If the new (lower) amount is inaccurate and the previous (higher) amount was accurate, then you could hire a lawyer to negotiate that with the attorney for the executor or administrator or make a case for it before the Probate Court.

Only a lawyer licensed to practice in the State of Rhode Island could file anything with the Probate Court or appear before the court on your behalf.

If the executor/administrator and you do not reach an agreement then the matter of the estate expenses and the distributions to you and anyone else would be placed before the Probate Court for hearing.

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