Probate Process: Making Distributions to Beneficiaries


In the probate process, an important phase involves making distributions to the beneficiaries of an estate. This typically occurs after identifying and settling any valid creditor claims against the estate.

  1. Setting Aside Funds for Final Expenses: Before making distributions, it’s crucial to reserve funds for final expenses and costs, including any remaining taxes, attorney fees, and other closing costs of the estate.
  2. Types of Distributions: There are generally two types of distributions in the probate process:
    • Specific Distributions or Bequests: These are fixed, predetermined amounts or specific properties designated in the will. Examples include a set amount of money to a relative or a particular piece of property, like a condo, earmarked for a specific beneficiary.
    • Residuary Beneficiaries: After specific bequests are made, the residue of the estate (what remains) is distributed. This may be divided as stated in the will, which could be equal shares among beneficiaries, such as adult children, or in another specified manner. If there’s no will, state statutes dictate the distribution of the residue.
  3. Final and Interim Distributions: The process described above typically pertains to final distributions. However, interim distributions might be made earlier in the probate process, especially in estates that take longer to settle. Beneficiaries might request and receive a portion of their inheritance in advance. It’s important for personal representatives to account for these interim distributions when making final distributions.

This overview of distributions in probate highlights the need for careful planning and adherence to the specifics of the will or state laws in the absence of a will. It’s advisable to consult with an attorney for guidance tailored to individual circumstances in the probate process.

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