Distributing estate money during a lawsuit
Last week, an Estate beneficiary was granted an Order allowing an interim distribution to him of about half his bequest under a Will. In the case, Davis v. Burns Estate, the applicant was a friend of the deceased and a 20-percent beneficiary.
Last year, the deceased’s disinherited daughter launched a lawsuit seeking to vary the deceased’s Will, and she opposed the interim distribution. The Court allowed it.
The Court considered the age of the applicant beneficiary (76 years) and the deceased’s wishes expressed in her Will, and held that even if the daughter succeeds in her lawsuit (which had been inactive for a year), the Will likely would not be varied to such a degree that an interim distribution would put the Estate at risk.
This result was just. Normally, interim distributions in Estates are reasonable if sufficient funds are held back to allow for taxes. It is surely easier when no beneficiary disputes the Will, but if a dispute of almost any type arises, Court scrutiny such as in this case is important.
This ad ran in the Richmond News on November 4, 2016.