Usually the first thing that the beneficiary of an estate or trust asks is when they can expect to get their inheritance check. Unfortunately sending out the inheritance checks is the very last item on the “to do” list of the personal representative or trustee. Why? Because the personal representative or trustee has to fulfill all of the duties and responsibilities that are required for settling an estate or trust before handing the assets over to the beneficiaries. Otherwise,the personal representative or trustee can be held personally liable for any unpaid bills and taxes.
Even with a simple estate or trust, the duties and responsibilities of the personal representative or trustee can be tedious and will delay the final distribution of the assets. What can be so time-consuming about settling an estate or trust that will cause the plans you have for your inheritance to be put on hold? Consider the following:
- Probate takes time and money. Probate is necessary when a deceased person leaves behind assets that are titled solely in the individual’s name without any beneficiary designated. This is true even if the deceased person created a revocable living trust provided that the trust was not fully funded at the time of death. Probate is a state court process that takes time and money and will delay the delivery of your inheritance check.
- Tax returns have to be filed and taxes have to be paid. The personal representative or trustee is responsible for filing the deceased person’s final income tax return(s) and paying any taxes that are due. Aside from this, the estate or trust may owe state estate taxes or inheritance taxes or federal estate taxes, in which case these returns must be filed and these taxes must be paid. Finalizing tax returns and paying any taxes due will delay the delivery of your inheritance check.
- Beneficiaries have their own agenda. Even though the beneficiaries of an estate or trust usually want to get their inheritance checks in their hands as soon as possible, they don’t always act quickly or follow instructions. Inevitably there will be at least one beneficiary who drags their feet when asked to provide information or sign and return legal documents or who will skip a signature and require documents to be resent. One disengaged beneficiary will spoil it for the rest and delay the delivery of your inheritance check.
For additional information about why settling an estate or trust takes so long and what to do with your inheritance, refer to the following:
- What Are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Personal Representative?
- What are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Successor Trustee?
- When is Probate Required?
- Why Does Probate Take So Long?
- What Types of Taxes Are Due After Someone Dies?
- When Will You Get Your Inheritance?
- Will You Have to Pay Taxes on Your Inheritance?
- 5 Tips for Managing Your Inheritance Wisely
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