Law Offices Of Thomas Sciacca, PLLC

Beneficiaries Blog Distributions Inheritance

I’m a Beneficiary — When Do I Get Paid?

For New York Estates, beneficiaries may be entitled to preliminary distributions from your Estate prior to seeing the final balance.

{Read in 3 Minutes}  As a Trusts and Estates attorney, I deal with Estates all the time. Whether somebody named beneficiaries in a Will that is before the Surrogate’s Court for probate, or someone died intestate (without a Will) and their next-of-kin will inherit the Estate, everyone wants to know when they will get paid. It’s an important question and it often takes some time from the date the person dies until the time that the Court issues Letters until the time that the fiduciary accounts and makes the final distribution to the Estate. In fact, while it can vary greatly from state to state, I recently wrote an article that provided some very general time guidelines so beneficiaries know what to expect.

This is great but suppose you don’t want to wait? Guess what? You’re not the only one. Almost every beneficiary of every Estate, ever, has wanted to know when they are going to get paid, and if they can get paid even more quickly. People love inheriting money. It helps pay bills. It helps them with their own estate planning. And, in some situations, it may also be necessary to deal with an urgent financial need.

If you are in a situation where you would like the distribution sooner rather than later, I recommend that you contact the fiduciary for the Estate (or their attorney) and ask if this is a possibility. Oftentimes it is. 

For example, Executors or Administrators of Estates might be able to make a preliminary distribution of some portion of your eventual inheritance while they are wrapping up the administration of the Estate. It might take months to deal with all of the open issues. Perhaps there are issues surrounding real property, or there are issues with claims against the Estate, or perhaps there are income or estate tax issues to resolve. These issues may take several months to process, but it’s possible the fiduciary is able and willing to make a preliminary distribution to you and/or other beneficiaries while still keeping enough money in reserve to deal with the Estate’s ongoing expenses. Worst case scenario, they say no, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

If you are a beneficiary of an Estate where the Court appointed a fiduciary a long time ago and you haven’t heard from the fiduciary and still haven’t received your distribution, you may have even more rights. For example, you can compel an accounting from the fiduciary. You can also bring a special proceeding before the Surrogate’s Court asking the Court to order immediate payment of your bequest, which the Court can consider. While turning to litigation will often delay the administration of an Estate, it is appropriate to get the Court involved in some scenarios.

If you would like more information on this topic, please contact me.