When you pass away, do you know what debts you’ll leave behind? Do you know how your family will be affected or how those debts will be paid?
If you don’t have a living trust at the time of your death, your estate will move into probate to help sort everything out. Probate is a process that helps pay off your debts and expenses, transfers your property and completes other actions.
You should know that your beneficiaries will receive nothing from your estate until your creditors are satisfied. For example, if you have $6,000 in credit debt and an estate worth $50,000, that $6,000 will likely have to be paid before your beneficiaries can inherit the rest.
Every estate has some final bills, like income taxes, cellphone bills and rotating expenses. Your estate’s beneficiaries should never pay for these expenses out of their own pickets. The executor of the estate should take care of them while settling the estate by using your estate’s assets. Liquidation is sometimes necessary to get the money to pay down what’s owed.
If your beneficiaries do make any payments toward your bills before probate begins, they should know that they can be reimbursed by the executor in most cases. No one should be paying out of their own pocket for your estate’s debts, unless they are also listed on that debt.
Your attorney can talk to you more about probate and how to protect you beneficiaries from making mistakes that could cost them hundreds or thousands of dollars. A good plan makes distributing your estate easier.