Hi all , here's the situation:
Problem: California estate was unable to sell unimproved parcel of real estate, not worth much at all, so now it is being distributed to heirs, a number of whom are out of state, as "undivided interest." Liquid proceeds have already been distributed. The lawyer has sent a document called "Receipt on Distribution" which he wants heirs to sign and return as a kind of "receipt" for the liquid proceeds distribution AND the "undivided interest" in the unimproved land parcel. No actual property deed or official government document proving ownership of the land parcel is being given to heirs, however - nothing beyond the few statements in a few of the estate attorney's letters so far. I have checked some online info, though, and apparently the new heirs have been recorded with some county office for this piece of property.
Question: what are the ramifications of refusing to sign and return this "Receipt on Distribution"? What if you don't want your fractional undivided interest in this land parcel, since it seems like much more trouble than it's worth (property taxes, potential problems, etc.)? Can you simply reply accordingly to the estate attorney repudiating your interest in it, or is it already a done deal if your name is recorded for it in a county office? I've been told that just because you are willed something doesn't mean you have to accept it. Is a quitclaim deed required already now, or would that only be required if you actually sign and return this "Receipt on Distribution," in effect accepting the "undivided interest" in the land parcel?
Problem #2: although it's already been a very long probate and is more or less over, only now the estate attorney has requested the heirs' social security numbers, stating the estate cpa "requires" it in order to complete the income tax returns for the estate. Although there would not be any actual federal inheritance/estate tax filing requirement (below exemption amount), apparently the estate itself had income since the liquid portion had to be kept in an interest bearing account for a long time.
Question: what are the ramifications of refusing to send your social security # if you don't feel like doing that? Is there any downside? Can't the CPA in California just file the income tax returns with whatever information about the heirs he/she has without it mattering or being of any consequence to you personally as one of the heirs if you merely don't send your ssn?
I've spoken to some local attorneys in my own state (not California) in a legal plan I'm part of. Unfortunately they have almost nothing to say really, and basically say that since they are not licensed in California they can't give any definitive answers.
So, in a nutshell, as it stands now I still haven't returned this "receipt on distribution" document, or sent my ss#, and don't want to send either really. If I return the "receipt" document only, then at least I would want to exclude "accepting" or acknowledging the undivided interest in the unimproved land parcel if it's possible to return the document in a modified way that's legally effective for that purpose. And still need to know the ramifications of it all.
I opened a follow-up letter from the CA estate attorney yesterday. He refers to the social security # as "required for the Estate's income tax returns listing the distributions made from the Estate"; I guess that means "distributions" of the income the estate itself earned, not the overall "estate distributions" we received consisting of a single check for the principal-plus-share-of-any-income-earned. As mentioned above, the estate was certainly below any federal inheritance/estate tax exemption. He also reiterates that the signed "Receipt on Distribution" he has requested from us serves in "acknowledging receipt of the court ordered distribution of cash [...] and an undivided interest in real property [...]"; however, as also mentioned above, the only thing we have really received for the real property are a few statements in a few letters from him, and I would rather not have anything to do with this real property now or do anything that would legally constitute "accepting" it.
Thanks in advance if anyone can shed light on these things.