If a person writes “partial payment” on a check, does this legally mean that they still owe the rest of the money owed?

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If a person writes “partial payment” on a check, does this legally mean that they still owe the rest of the money owed?

In my grandmothers Will it states that her house is to be sold and the money split between her 3 children. My mother is deceased and I am her only child. But also in the Will it states that the power of attorney may distribute as they see fit. The house was sold for $120,000,000 but my aunt didn’t want to give up $40,000, so she only gave me $24,000 and told me that she would give me the rest later. She wrote on the check that this was only partial payment. Doesn’t she now have to pay up since she wrote on the check and signed that that $24,000 is only partial payment?

Asked on November 21, 2010 under Estate Planning, District of Columbia

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for your loss.  I want to clear up a few things.  First, there is no Power of Attorney once a person dies.  I think that what you mean is that your Aunt was named as the Executor in the Will, correct? Then she has an obligation as what is known as the "fiduciary" of an estate to distribute the assets as indicated by the "Testator" (your Grandmother).  You as the beneficiary have a right to see an accounting of the estate, which lists all the assets and the distribution thereunder.  It should be filed in the probate file.  Ask questions here too.  You have every right to know.  And yes, you should get the $40,000.00 but only after all the debts of the estate are paid as well.  Good luck. 


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