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When should executors fund bequests?

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2023 | Estate Administration |

If a family member wants you to serve as his or her estate executor in the future, you might want to know when to fulfill parts of the will. In particular, you may wonder when you should distribute any bequests made by your relative.

The American Bar Association provides some background that could help you understand what a bequest is and when executors disperse them during probate.

The definition of a bequest

When you read a will, you likely find provisions that give heirs certain amounts of money or other assets. A common example is a son or daughter getting a dollar amount along with property such as a valuable dinner set. Such provisions are bequests, which are often in both wills and trusts.

When to distribute a bequest

Executors often fulfill bequests prior to dispersing whatever remains of the estate. However, before you distribute a bequest, you should make sure that the estate does not owe any outstanding debts, including unpaid bills and taxes. Money for these payments comes out of the estate, and it may be necessary to sell off estate assets to fulfill debts.

If you distribute property before providing for the debts of the estate, there may be no assets left over to pay outstanding amounts. Creditors may hold you legally responsible for depleting the estate before paying them off.

The possibility of debt owed by your relative makes it important to establish provisions for paying off debts in an estate plan. Discussing this issue with your relative may make your executor duties more efficient and expose you to less legal risk.