If I’m an heir to an estate that is going through probate, can the executor choose on his own accord to give my inheritance to the IRS for a personal debt that I owe?

I have a personal IRS tax debt and Lien, which is not in any way related to any matters of the estate. Can the executor for the Estate give my inheritance to the IRS, even though the IRS has not directly contacted him to officially request that he do so? This executor could have only learned of my personal debt/lien if he chose on his own to look into it. Wouldn’t that also be out of the jurisdiction of his duties which should only concern the finances of the estate?

Asked on March 4, 2015 under Estate Planning, Maryland


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Maybe or maybe not.  The IRS can go after the Executor of an estate on amny levels and although they generally deal with priority of debts paid of the decedent rather than beneficiaries, I would not doubt that there is something somewhere that may give him the right to pay them instead of you if he knows.  But I think it is worth your looking in to with an attorney in your area.  He may have indeed overstepped his duties.  Actual knowledge of the debt - like notice served upon him - may be what is required.  Good luck.

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