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beneficiary responsible for total estate?

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What is the name of your state? Pennsylvania

My former husband's brother called to inform me that as beneficiary to his life ins. & 401K/profit sharing if I sign my name in order to claim the money that I will be held responsible for the total estate. He said that his lawyer said that if I don't sign it all over to the estate that I will have to pay taxes on all of the money and it would put my name into the estate which would make me responsible since there is no will. He said that if I sign the money over to the estate, his lawyer would handle the whole estate, that no one would be responsible for my ex's mountains of debt and that once the creditors are paid that the left over money will be distributed. Is this possible? Should I sign over the money to the estate to avoid further problems? How would I be taxed if I decided to keep the money? Can I be held responsible for his debts if I don't sign over the money? If I am paid the money directly, would I be named executor even if there is no will? Should I get a lawyer? I don't have the money to do that but I am feeling so pressured to do this by his family and I am scared of making the wrong choices.

Dandy Don

Senior Member
Do not under any circumstances sign over any money to this estate--the money, as you have been told before, is ALL YOURS TO KEEP. This brother and the lawyer are trying to take advantage of you and trying to steal this money from you and they are telling you lies trying to get you confused. Please ignore anything else that they tell you in the future and tell them in no uncertain terms to PLEASE LEAVE YOU ALONE!!

If you were to put this money into the estate, the outstanding debts and bills would erase a large portion of it, then the executor's/attorneys fee would take another large portion, and you would be left with virtually nothing!!! You can consult a local CPA or tax accountant at tax time to figure out your tax liability. You can not be held responsible for your husband's debts and if any creditors contact you you can tell them the estate is bankrupt and the debts will have to unfortunately remain unpaid (I am not familiar with Pennsylvania law about this aspect).

So what if the attorney or the brother records your name as executor (which they can't do anyway--the form requires your signature if you were applying for that position)--even if they did that, you can get the probate stopped by simply reporting that the estate has no assets and that your name was wrongfully reported and then the entire probate procedure will be cancelled since this man has no other assets to report for probating.

At this point you do not need a lawyer. All you need to do is to sit back and wait for the check from the life insurance company and from the profit sharing plan. After you receive your money, you may want to consult with a probate attorney to get a definitive answer to your question about whether or not you are liable for any of your husband's debts.

DANDY DON IN OKLAHOMA ([email protected])

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