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The duty of an estate executor is to settle the estate of someone who has died. Naturally, many Tennessee executors have no desire to drag out closing an estate and want to distribute the estate’s assets to heirs as soon as possible. However, there are reasons not to rush distribution. In fact, rushing estate assets and property to beneficiaries can create problems for the executor if certain legal steps are not taken.

Smart Asset points out that executors should distribute assets in a timely manner, but this does not mean executors should act immediately. Actually, heirs might not receive their portion of an estate until several months after they received notification of what they are to inherit. The reason is that before beneficiaries can be served, the estate must settle all outstanding debts against it.

The delay before beneficiaries receive their inheritance is to allow creditors enough time to make claims that the estate owes them money. It is the duty of the executor to handle these claims and if necessary, pay the creditors from the estate assets. An executor also has to process outstanding tax issues that might be levied against the estate. Rushing to pay off beneficiaries before these debts are paid could land the executor in significant legal trouble if the estate has no money left to pay the debts.

Bankrate adds that executors should beware of conflicts among the beneficiaries that might erupt. Sometimes beneficiaries feel they deserve more from the estate or that the estate plan improperly cut them out of an inheritance they feel is rightfully theirs. These disputes can lead to court fights over the estate, which means an executor will have to put distributing estate assets on hold until the matter is resolved.

While it is natural to want to please beneficiaries who are eager to receive their share of an estate, patience is important. If an executor ends up in a situation that delays the distribution of the estate’s assets, hiring an attorney for legal counsel can be of great help in settling all outstanding issues against the estate.