What proceeds should be used to pay medical bills and other estate debts?

The deceased made a specific monetary bequest to an heir in his Will while still living and put money into an account to cover the bequest. He owned property in another state jointly with his 2nd wife, who was earlier deceased. A Trust had been set up by both now deceased parties leaving remaining assets to be divided equally among 8 heirs (his and her children by previous marriages). After death, medical bills and debts were paid from the sale of the property. There was about $2,000 remaining. The heir who was to receive the bequest was paid in full ($84,000) the remainder of the property proceeds was equally distributed among the 8 heirs. Should the money willed to the one heir have been combined with the property money to pay medical and other bills?

Asked on November 9, 2014 under Estate Planning, Oregon


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and the situation.  Generally speaking, specific bequests are not allowed to be altered by an executor.  However, if there is not enough liquid assets to pay a debt each states laws generally permit its use.  Seems here, though, that there was enough albeit it was not maybe "fair" to the rest of you.  If it gnaws at you seek a consultation about how things were handled from a local attorney.  Good luck.

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