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Post: The Moneyist: ‘He’s always been a shady character’: My uncle asked me to sign a document saying that I’d no rights to my grandfather’s land. I didn’t sign it. What now?

Dear Quentin,

My late grandfather had a lot of land that was supposed to be divided between my dad and my uncle.

If my dad or uncle were deceased my dad’s half would go to my sister and me, and my uncle’s half to his daughter. If my sister or I had died, it would go to my uncle. 

None of this could be collected until my grandmother was also deceased. Sadly, my sister has also passed away.

When my grandmother passed away, my uncle said that wills had been changed after my dad died. My grandmother’s name was not on my grandfather’s land. 

I recently received a letter from an attorney hired by my uncle that he wanted me to sign stating I had no rights to this property. I never signed it.

Why would my uncle need me to sign this letter if the will had been changed leaving me with nothing? He has always been a shady character. 

My late father always told my sister and me to watch out for him because he would try to screw us out of our inheritance.

Granddaughter in Alabama

Dear Granddaughter,

Your father had your uncle’s number, and so do you. Sign nothing. Consult a lawyer. Plan your next course of action. None of this seems above board.

If there is a new will, your uncle would have little reason for you to sign away your rights to your grandfather’s property — unless he was afraid that you would sue. 

A will can generally be contested due to lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence from a family member (in this case, your uncle) and improper execution.

Only a person with a potential interest in the estate can challenge a will. A judge can invalidate the will, reinstate a previous version or abide by the laws of intestacy. 

‘Take your feelings about your uncle out of the equation.’

And if there is no will? As your father predeceased you, you would stand to inherit a portion of your grandfather’s estate, under the intestate laws in Alabama.

Under Alabama law, probate must be filed within five years of death. As a beneficiary, you can also petition the court to be administrator of the estate.

Your estate lawyer will advise you on what course of action you need to take, but first take your feelings about your uncle out of the equation. This is business.

Above all, you are fulfilling your family’s wishes, and ensuring that you are taking your rightful place as an heir to your grandfather’s estate.

Yocan email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.

More from Quentin Fottrell:

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• ‘He is the most computer-illiterate person I know’: I was my husband’s research analyst, caregiver, cook and housekeeper. Now he wants a divorce after 38 years.
• ‘Our friends always yearned for a relationship like ours’: My husband of 16 years left me for another man. I don’t want them to live in our properties. What can I do?

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