Our goal is to help heirs who are facing difficult situations. Unfortunately, there are times where, despite our desire to help, the facts of the case prevent us from getting involved. What do we look for when considering an advance on inheritance?
For starters, we need to make sure that the client is a rightful heir. In cases where the decedent left a will, the will specifies who is to receive an inheritance from the estate and in what amount or proportion. Sometimes the will simply states that the estate is to go to the decedent’s children in equal share, without naming them. In such a case we need to verify that the individual is in fact a child and a rightful heir.
In cases where there is no will, called intestacy, state law determines who inherits what. When there are children as well as a surviving spouse, we need to be clear about who gets what before we can approve an advance.
Sometimes we work with heirs who are dealing with a trust. In one case we worked with a young man from Florida who was the beneficiary of a trust. He needed money to pay for college and could not wait until the probate came to an end and he received his share from the trust.
Frequently, however, trusts contain what is called a “spendthrift provision” that prevents us from doing an advance in these cases. This provision blocks the recipient from selling and assigning their expected interest in the trust to a third party (such as Heir Cash Now or anyone else not specifically provided for in the trust.)
We also need to assess the value of the estate and the heir’s share. This share usually needs to be at least $18,000 for us to be able to consider an advance.
The value of the estate can be determined by looking at the value of real estate, bank accounts, stocks and investments, settlements, or other assets. These values will be listed in an “Inventory and Appraisal” that gets filed with the court by the attorney or family representative, who in different states and situations would be called a personal representative, executor, or administrator.
Even when there are substantial assets, we need to know about liabilities as well. Things like home funeral expenses, mortgages, credit card bills, utility bills, medical and nursing home expenses, taxes, attorney and estate fees, or other expenses all need to be satisfied before the heir’s share comes into play.
Our due diligence process also includes an evaluation of how quickly the estate is likely to move and whether there are conflicts and complicated situations that can cause delays. In some cases the call comes very early in the process, before we can do a proper assessment. We may need to wait until more information becomes available.
In other cases, the call comes too late in the process, when the estate is close to paying out and the final accounting has already been filed. In these situations the window of opportunity for us to file the necessary paperwork with the court has already closed. The silver lining here is that the heir is close to receiving his or her inheritance directly from the estate.
Another necessary step is for us to speak with the lawyer or paralegal working on the case. We need to verify that someone competent and knowledgeable about probate and inheritance matters is working on the estate and keeping it moving forward. Errors and inattentiveness can create costly delays and increase our risk. The attorney is required to tell the truth and can provide documents and verify information that we need to properly evaluate an heir’s situation.
When an heir is in contact with the attorney and gives him or her a heads up that we are going to be calling, that increases the likelihood that they will provide the needed information exponentially.
It is frustrating, both for us and for our clients, when an attorney is unwilling to talk with us, especially when all of the other information looks good. We understand that they are busy, but our call with the attorney does not need to take a long time.
When people call and need money, we do our best to support them. Unfortunately, we are unable to assist everyone who calls. Our rigorous due diligence process allows us to stay in business so we can help our many satisfied customers.