Can money from an inheritance be distributed to the beneficiaries before the estate is settled?

A person dies with $59,000 in the bank. The Will states that all assets be divided between 2 heirs. The person has a house worth $100,000 and a loan balance of $93,000, a second house worth $150,000 and a loan balance of $23,000 and no other debts. Can the money due the heirs ($59,000) be given to them before the estate is settled.

Asked on June 11, 2014 under Estate Planning, Georgia


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

While an Executor can make partial distribution of an estate to the beneficiaries before the estate is finalized, it is not in their best interest to do so.  The executor has to make sure that there is enough money for debts - such as creditors - and taxes and if they distribute funds and then there is not enough for creditors or the IRS they would be personally liable for the deficiency. Best to wait. 

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