Heirs often want to know if there is any way to get their inheritance faster.
Probate can take a long time, for various reasons, and lately it has been taking even longer because IRS delays are making tax clearance even slower. So, here are some options for heirs in a cash crunch.
First, the executor can pay expense reimbursements as soon as possible. This includes reimbursing heirs who paid the funeral bill, court or lawyer fees, clean out or move out costs, co-op fees, mortgage payments, and property repairs. Heirs who fronted these funds are entitled to be reimbursed from the estate.
Of course, reimbursements are not actually your inheritance, but repayment of money owed back to you. But if you need liquidity NOW, this can usually come out of the estate quickly with minimal delays. For example, court fees are unequivocal, so those can be reimbursed immediately once the estate has funds available.
Requesting a reimbursement from the estate is a quick way to get cash back into your pocket. Some heirs pull thousands of dollars from their personal bank accounts to cover the estate expenses and can’t afford to wait a year or longer to replenish their accounts.
Another alternative it to do an intermediate accounting. One of the main steps to close an estate is to do an accounting of the full books and ledgers of the executor’s tenure (every dollar that came in and out of the estate). The accounting is usually done at the end of the estate process because it is time-consuming and costly. It’s difficult to track down every transaction over the span of several years, even though the executor keeps track as they go along.
An intermediate accounting takes place in the middle of the probate process, so that the executor is approved to distribute a portion of the funds to the heirs. The problem with an intermediate accounting that the executor is duplicating work that they have to do all over again at the end of the estate.
An intermediate accounting doubles the cost but may be worth it if heirs need cash and the delays are really long. This may frustrate other heirs who do not see a need for an intermediate accounting, and they may demand that the duplicate costs be paid for by the heir who wants the accounting. Most people don’t like paying for something twice if they don’t have to!
Inheritance advance loan
There is another option, but I highly discourage it: the inheritance advance loan. It is BAD idea, because it is a loan that takes advantage of an heir’s need for money.
With an inheritance advance loan, you can pay 50-100% interest/fees! If your share of the estate will be $50,000 and you need $10,000 now, the loan company will give you $10,000 now. But, at the end of the estate, the executor will give you $30,000 because for the $10,000 that you borrowed, you owe the lending company $20,000. If for some reason your share of the estate becomes less than you thought it would be or if you need to spend more money on litigation, repayment may be a problem.
In the narrowest of circumstances, this option may be worth it. Please explore the other options of expense reimbursements and intermediate accounting first. Talk to your executor or attorney to make sure all other options are exhausted before perusing an inheritance advance loan. This option exists for worst case nuclear emergencies.
Check out by book, “How Probate Works,” so you can understand the probate process and have reasonable expectations up front about getting your money. We try to make it clear to our clients that this process could take months or even years. Some clients may decide to go to other more optimistic attorneys, but I don’t like to over-promise and under-deliver.