Grandparents who spent a lifetime working to accumulate assets reach a point when they must make a decision about how their assets, including money, get distributed upon their death. If they set this down in a will, the responsibility of following the instructions left falls upon the executor, designated in the will by the maker and appointed by the court upon the maker's death. The executor must be careful to disburse the money left to the grandchildren in accordance with the stated wishes of the deceased and any applicable laws.
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Pay all valid estate debts, taxes and funeral expenses. The state in which the deceased lived at the time of his death will have a set time period during which creditors can make valid claims against the estate. An executor who distributes money to heirs before all valid estate debts, taxes and funeral expenses have been paid can be held personally liable if there is not enough money left to pay the estate's expenses.
Read the will to determine what is to be paid to each grandchild. If the language in the will names each of the grandchildren, with a specific amount designated for each, the executor simply follows the instructions when making the payments. If the will designates a percentage of the estate or a lump sum to be divided amongst the grandchildren, the executor must determine how many grandchildren qualify to share in the estate and divide the total amount by that number.
Read the will to determine if it creates a trust for any grandchild's share of the estate until the grandchild reaches a stated age. If it does, the executor must write a check for that grandchild's share of the estate to the trustee named in the will to be overseer of the trust.
Pay each grandchild, according to the terms of the will, who has reached the age of majority under state law where the will is probated. The executor pays the grandchildren the amount they are owed by writing a check from the estate checking account to each grandchild entitled to receive payment.
Make payments to grandchildren who are minors by paying the grandchild's parents on behalf of the grandchild. If there is no trust created in the will, bequests to a minor grandchild can only be made to a court appointed guardian of the property of the child. Some states permit payment to the parents on behalf of their minor child, provided the payment does not exceed the amount set by the law of the state in which the will has been probated.
Tips & Warnings
The executor should consult with an attorney if there are children born after the will was prepared or if any of the grandchildren died. Laws differ from state to state concerning the rights of grandchildren born after a will is prepared unless the language of the will specifically includes them as sharing in the estate.
References & Resources
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