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Heirs May Get Some Unwelcome Surprises in Inheritances


Learning that a loved one has passed away can be an emotionally devastating experience for any person. However, there may be little time to grieve if that loved one has left family members with huge financial responsibilities and burdens. This can often happen if the person who dies has left behind massive debt, unresolved tax issues, or secret bank accounts.

When people are put in this situation, both the heirs and executors of an estate could face some serious complications when it comes to settling an estate. There are many challenges to consider and most people do not have the experience or legal knowledge that may be required to handle these matters. In these cases, it may be wise to reach out for support from an estate planning attorney who is familiar with these complications.

For example, many people may not realize that an heir could end up having to pay back the IRS if there is no money left in the decedent’s estate to cover tax obligations. Even more troubling is that tax issues can pop up several years after a person has died.

There can also be troubles with a person’s debt. If there are unpaid bills, lawsuits or other sources of debt, an heir or family member can be left to resolve the financial deficits.

Heirs can also face some unwanted surprises if a decedent has left a significant sum of money in foreign bank accounts. In these situations, there must be documents filed and back taxes paid when an offshore account is discovered, not to mention the penalties associated with inheriting money from unreported offshore accounts.

These can all be very complicated issues that heirs may have to deal with when someone passes away. However, instead of trying to navigate the complexities of settling these estates alone, people in California can save time and avoid stress by working with an attorney to protect an inheritance and tie up any loose ends.

Source: Forbes, “Heirs Left With Unpaid Bills May Inherit More Grief Than Gold,” Deborah L. Jacobs, June 18, 2014

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