My Great Uncle left his Estate to his nieces and nephews. My father died before my uncle leaving my brother and I to inherit his share. No actual will was written. Originally we were told we would become additional heirs, now they want us to send a check back to the estate?
If there is no will, then your great Uncle left his estate "intestate". He really didn't "leave" the estate to anyone. When someone dies without a will, state law governs. State law will list in some type of order the ranking in which various surviving family members will share the estate of the deceased. State law will also appoint the person who will manage the intestate estate (sometimes referred to as a personal administrator, but the term may vary depending on where you are located). Typically, whoever is serving as the personal administrator would hire a probate or estate attorney to assist in interpreting the state statute or law, marshalling (collecting) you Great Uncle's assets, paying debts, paying taxes if any (estate, inheritance, etc.), and finally making distributions. Before distributions are made typically the heirs (whether under a will or intestate) are given a form to sign releasing the personal administrator from any claims and acknowledging the receipt of the money. In many cases some type of informal summary of assets and distributions are provided (in other cases a more formal accounting is undertaken). All this should have indicated what and who was to inherit. Many of the releases signed when estate distributions are made are called "Receipt, Release and Refunding Bond". It is a legal document in which you as the heir would acknowledge receipt of a distribution, release (no claims) against the personal administrator and then agree to refund or return the money if necessary. This is commonly done in case distributions are made but a liability, lawsuit, tax audit or other matter requires a return of some of the distributions. With all this said, you really need to find out what the facts are. Why are they asking for a return of money? It may be a perfectly appropriate reason (tax audit), or just a mistake or something else. Given the myriad of issues, hire a local probate attorney to help you out.
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