Can Inheritance be Garnished for Back Child Support

You may feel that you are subject to garnishment at any time, you may even think your inheritance is at stake. An inheritance originally refers to property that someone receives from an estate of someone without a will, but today it can refer to any property that someone receives from an estate. As a wills lawyer in East Greenwich, RI from a firm like McCarthy Law, LLC can explain, how you receive your inheritance may dictate whether the state can garnish it for any debts of child support. State laws vary, so it is imperative you contact an attorney with experience in these situations.

Obtaining Inheritance Through Probate

People commonly receive their inheritance as a result of the probate process. Probate is the process that an estate must go through in order for the assets to be distributed to the designated heirs. The court will appoint an executor (if one is not listed in the will) and will supervise the administration of the estate including paying back any debts the estate owes. To be clear, even if an amount or item is promised as inheritance, it does not legally belong to them until the person leaving it passes away. This means that the state cannot take your inheritance until it passes into your possession.

Assets Held in a Trust

Most property is subject to the probate process, however, if one establishes a living trust to hold their assets, they may avoid it. Living trusts designate property to listed beneficiaries to ensure they go directly to the heir and are not garnished for the deceased’s own debt. Beneficiaries cannot access the trust while the owner is alive and so the state cannot take from the trust to satisfy child support debt of the heir. However,, the state can put a lien on the trust assets which means the assets will go to the state when the owner dies rather than to the beneficiary that owes the state.

Using a Spendthrift Trust

Spendthrift trusts are created to stop creditors from collecting the assets to satisfy an heir’s debt. The beneficiary will get a particular amount of the asset’s worth at set intervals, but cannot ask for more. They also cannot sell their rights to a trust to pay their creditors. However, it cannot prevent the state from taking assets to satisfy a debt to them. Either way, the state has methods of collection.

Collecting Payment from Heir’s Property

The state may try to garnish what is called heir’s property. This is usually real estate co-owned between a few different heirs. Each person has a portion of the property and has rights to the asset. If the state decided to garnish a portion for back child support, then they would only control the portion of the debtor. 

Consider Legal Assistance

If you are concerned about back child support and your inheritance, consider calling an experienced attorney to discuss your specific circumstances. Liens and garnishment are tricky and it is best to get advice from someone who has spent time on these cases. Call today for a free consultation and a tailored strategy to protect your rightful inheritance.