The heirs of an estate are generally entitled to anything that is designated in the will for them. However, when the testator died in debt, bills may need to be paid before heirs receive anything from the estate. It is a good idea to work with a College Station probate lawyer if you are having trouble collecting on an inheritance.
Paying Debts of the Decedent
The job of paying bills left by the testator is usually the responsibility of the executor. Indeed, this is one of the executor’s primary functions, and the payment of medical bills, taxes and other debts must be accomplished before the estate can be distributed to beneficiaries. This includes real estate that was owned by the decedent.
Payment of medical bills often is accomplished through the testator’s health insurance or Medicare coverage. Another source of funds to pay off medical and other debts is a life insurance policy purchased by the decedent. When these sources are available, the testator will submit the medical bills to these entities, first to a health insurance company and Medicare. These sources will then contact the executor to inform him of any remaining balance due.
Liquidating the Estate
If the testator did not have sufficient health insurance or a life insurance policy, the executor then will need to begin liquidating assets in the estate. It may be necessary to sell tangible assets to raise the money necessary to accomplish this, including real property. It is possible that the heirs will not receive the full amount of their inheritance if such a liquidation of the estate’s assets becomes necessary.
In some cases, indeed, a testator will be in such debt that the estate is insolvent, and the heirs are left with nothing after bills are paid. If, however, the debts exceed the value of the estate, it will not be the responsibility of heirs to pay the remaining indebtedness should the estate be insolvent.
Generally, however, even when some assets must be liquidated to pay off debts, heirs will receive at least a portion of what was left to them. If real property had to be sold to pay off these debts, the heirs will usually receive cash in lieu of the property once debts are settled.
For Legal Assistance with Probate
Probate can be complicated, and you may find that it is in your best interests to work with a College Station probate lawyer. Call Peterson Law Group to arrange a consultation at 979-703-7014 or 936-337-4681.