Sometimes the estate doesn’t have cash on hand and only has illiquid assets like the home, a business, or artwork. But settling the estate has many ongoing bills and expenses, from court fees to movers to accountants. We’ll discuss 3 ways to deal with cash-poor, illiquid estates.
Can the heirs pay?
Sure – If the heirs have the funds, they can “lend” money to the estate to keep things moving. For example, the estate will be worth $200,000 once we liquidate everything, but we have no cash until we sell everything, such as a house. We usually need a couple thousand dollars to hire an appraiser and clean it out prior to the sale. It’s not a good situation.
First of all, not all heirs have the funds or ability to pay. Oftentimes, we’re not looking at hundreds of dollars, but thousands. Even if there is an heir who is well-off, it may create an imbalance. The heir who loaned to the estate feels entitled to run the show and receive information before the other heirs. When the family is upset and grieving, having a wealthy heir loan money to the estate could cause more family problems.
Especially in this situation, the executor must keep excellent records to make sure the repayment in terms of final inheritance adds up properly.
Can you get a loan against your inheritance?
This means borrowing from an “inheritance funding” company. These are basically like payday loans for heirs, but for estates. This is VERY expensive.
How does it work? I’m not endorsing this, but I want you to understand it. Here is the example:
You have an inheritance of $10,000 that you should be receiving, but you don’t want to wait. You then pledge up to $10,000 of your inheritance to the lender. In exchange for signing loan documents, the lender gives you $5,000 cash now (half). Depending on how long it takes for the estate to close and repay, the lender will keep up to $10,000 of your inheritance. If the estate takes too long to settle, the lender may keep all $10,000. Or maybe the estate settles quickly, and the lender gives you $2,000. So, essentially you paid $3,000 to borrow $7,000. Estates can take a long time, so most likely you’d walk away with just your 50%. It might be better just to wait to get your money from the closing of the estate instead.
Heirs need to sign a bunch of paperwork, and the lender will have lots of questions for the beneficiary and executor to make sure it’s likely the lender will be repaid.
I wouldn’t call this a good option, but it is an option. I think it’s not used as much as we think it would be, because people simply don’t know about.
Can I delay paying estate bills?
Yes, you can try to juggle and pay only the immediate bills, and delay or defer the rest until there’s cash available.
An example of this would be negotiating to pay upon the sale of the home or business. For instance, an appraiser may want $500 up front to do the appraisal, but maybe you can offer to pay them $1,000 (but not until the closing of the sale).
This option requires savvy and experience to determine who will bend vs. what bills are important and must be paid now. Negotiating doesn’t necessarily mean that letters will stop coming from the debt collectors and such. You will likely continue to receive monthly notices until they are paid.
In conclusion, none of these options are great, but it’s what you do if you’re stuck in that situation. To dig into this topic a little more, please check out my book, “How Probate Works,” available on Amazon.