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Inheritance and Bankruptcy

June 30, 2010

When a bankruptcy debtor inherits money from someone who dies within 180 days of the date the debtor filed bankruptcy that money becomes part of the debtor’s bankruptcy estate.  The inherited money that becomes part of the bankruptcy estate is used to pay your creditors.  This is true even if you have received a discharge and your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case has closed.  Free Consultation  

For instance, if you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy on April 1, and your great aunt dies on September 28 (within 180 days of the bankruptcy filing date), any money you receive from your great aunt’s estate must be turned over to the bankruptcy trustee.  It does not matter when you receive the money or when your case was discharged.  You might receive the inheritance years later, and it must be turned over to the bankruptcy trustee for payment to creditors.  You may be charged with bankruptcy fraud (a federal crime) if you fail to inform the trustee of your inheritance or turn over the money. Free Consultation 

If the trustee receives inherited money, your case will be reopened and a bankruptcy estate is formed.  Notices to creditors are sent and the trustee will distribute the funds to creditors.  In some cases you will be able to keep some of the money, and in other cases some of the funds may be returned.  Free Consultation  

Inherited property is treated the same as cash.  If you receive a car or a family heirloom, the property must be turned over to the trustee.  In some cases you may be able to exempt inherited property or the trustee may consider the value of the inheritance too small or burdensome to liquidate and distribute. Free Consultation 

If you are considering bankruptcy and are aware of a significant chance of someone leaving you inheritance money, speak with your attorney.  There are options to avoid turnover including rewriting the will to cut you out, or setting up a spendthrift trust.  A spendthrift trust cannot be reached by creditors.  Consult with an attorney to properly create a spendthrift trust or rewrite a will.  There is nothing illegal or immoral about estate planning and your loved one may prefer leaving money to you rather than your creditors. Free Consultation

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