Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
Hi; My goal is to provide you with great service - if you have any questions during our chat, please ask! I'll do my best to ensure your satisfaction! I am sorry to hear of this. This happens on occasion - an overpayment of an inheritance. In order to ensure that there was in fact an overpayment, generally the heir would request an accounting and an explanation as to what caused such overpayment. The executor/trustee is ultimately liable for any errors made during the course of probate/distribution, so for example, if proper notice is not given to a creditor, thereby enabling a creditor to file a claim against the estate, generally the executor would be liable for this. There is a legal premise called "justifiable reliance" - this occurs when one person justifiably, and, with detriment, relies on the actions of another. In such a case, the person causing the justifiable reliance can be held responsible for their actions - ie the economic damage to the innocent person. Damages would vary depending on the judge, but could include a judgment that the estate is not entitled to the money since the heir relied on it; or may order the executor to pay interest fees that will be incurred (ie for example on a loan) based on how long the heir would have to maintain a balance in order to pay off the dental bills. So while overpayment can result in re-payment, any harm suffered is generally attributed to the executor, as disbursements are not supposed to be made until it is certain that there is adequate money.
Can they insist it be paid back in 5 days?
They can insist on whatever - as there is no statute that governs this. The issue would be whether it is reasonable under the circumstances. It is likely that this is a demand letter- letting the heirs know that they will pursue legal action if the money is not re-paid, and designating the 5 days as a time limit. This limit can be countered- by explaining the situation and the fact that the money is simply not there; or to state that the heirs are not in a position to comply with the request until they are provided with an explanation/accounting as to how the "mishap" occurred.
Also, if the heirs are inclined to pay it back, but financially cannot, they could likely work out a payment plan with the executor, who would have to "front" the money to the estate in the interim.
Did you have any further questions on the above? I will be going off line shortly and want to ensure that you have no further concerns.
No, I think that answers all my questions,
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