What to Do If You Inherit Money from an Estate

If you inherit money from an estate, you may have questions about handling the inheritance. For example, you might want to know how you will receive the money, how much money it will be, and what to do with the money.

How Will You Receive an Inheritance?

Usually, people pass on inheritances through their wills. A will explains how to distribute someone’s estate after he or she dies. Each person who receives money or property from the estate is called an heir. In the will, the deceased person names an executor to handle his or her affairs, including contacting heirs to notify them of inheritances.

When you learn from an executor that you will receive an inheritance, you may not get the money or property right away. Estates sometimes have to pass through probate court before they can be distributed. Also, sometimes it takes a long time to wrap up the deceased person’s affairs. But once the time is right, the executor will either transfer the property to you or write you a check in the amount of the inheritance.

How Much Money or Property Will You Inherit?

The amount of money or property that you inherit depends on what the will says, how much the estate is worth, and what other heirs inherit. For example, when a deceased person dies with a lot of debt, the estate must pay the creditors before it can pay the heirs. The estate will decrease in value, meaning some heirs may inherit much less than anticipated.

Further, the amounts of some inheritances depend on what other heirs receive. The will could say that one person receives $10,000, with the rest of the estate going to you. But if the estate is only worth $12,000, your gift might not be as much as you thought.

What Should You Do With the Inheritance?

Once the executor transfers the inheritance to you, most of the time you are free to do what you like with it. (Rarely, the deceased person writes conditions into the will, such as restricting you from selling real estate for a certain amount of time.) You might consider making your own estate plan so that the inheritance money or property could go to the person of your choice. Or you could use the inheritance to achieve a financial goal, such as paying off loans or putting a down payment on a house.

Have questions about an inheritance? Local attorney Andrew Szocka, Esq. provides thorough and speedy estate planning help in the Chicagoland area. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit the Law Office of Andrew Szocka, P.C. online or call the office at (815) 455-8430.

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