If a beneficiary owed the decedent money, must they pay it back before they receive their inheritance?

UPDATED: Mar 10, 2015

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If a beneficiary owed the decedent money, must they pay it back before they receive their inheritance?

My father died. His Will is 50% to both my brother, who is the executor and myself, and $5000 to his church. My bother is saying that I owe him some past debt and as executor he can take it out of the estate before it gets divided. I don’t believe this to be true. Wouldn’t the Will be honored and we’d each get paid?

Asked on March 10, 2015 under Estate Planning, Wisconsin


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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  The Executor of an estate can enforce any agreement made by the decendet prior to his death.  So he can indeed enforce a loan agreement and make sure that it is paid back.  He should, though, do this formally and with the court's being informed of the matter.  I think that you should come to an agreemtn as to the funds owed - and is there a valid loan agreement or understanding to enforce? - and resolve this amicably.  Good luck.

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