topic | pay estate debts, taxes, and expenses

Step 1: pay family allowances

A family allowance may be given to a surviving spouse, children, or others who are dependent on the deceased.  It may also be given to a person who gains care and custody of minor children. 

The family allowance is paid by the estate. It can be paid as a lump sum or in equal partial distributions. The allotted amount varies by state. The executor may determine payments under statute guidelines. However, in some states the payout may be fixed. Consult an estate attorney to determine if family members qualify for the family allowance.

Depending upon the state, the family allowance may take priority over other claims. Distribution of this allowance is usually limited to a year following the decedent’s death and may include household goods and furnishings as well as cash.

Activity 1
Determine State Family Allowance

Check with an estate attorney or the county court for the deceased for specifics.

Activity 2
Pay Family Allowance

  • Payment of the family allowance must come from the estate checking account (established in the Topic: Gathering Information and Making Notifications)
  • Write a check for the state maximum amount, payable to the surviving spouse or the custodian of the dependents.
  • Document payment in the checkbook ledger.
  • Payment must be made before the estate is closed.

Best Practices

Consider the unique financial situation of each family. Do their monetary needs or spending habits influence whether they would benefit from periodic installments or a lump sum payment? In most cases payment should be made soon after the estate checking account is opened, before other claims arise.

(if this Step is complete)
to Step 2

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