What is an Advancement and How Does it Work?

An advancement is a gift given during life to a future heir with the intent that the gift be treated as part of the heir’s inheritance.  For example, a Mother has a Last Will and Testament stating that $50,000 will go to her daughter and $50,000 will go to her son.  While living, Mother gives a $20,000 advancement to her son.  Upon Mother’s death, the son will receive $30,000 and the daughter will receive $50,000.  As the son received $20,000 of his inheritance during life, he will receive $20,000 less upon his Mother’s death.

An advancement is only effective if it is declared in a contemporaneous writing by the decedent or an acknowledgement in writing by the heir receiving the advancement.  Moreover, property advanced is valued as of the time the heir comes into possession of the property.  So, to use our example from before, if instead of $20,000 in cash, Mother advanced a car to her son in 2003 when it was valued at $20,000, and then Mother passed away in 2011 when the car was valued at $10,000, the son would still receive $30,000.  As stated, it is the value of the property at the time of the gift that matters and not the value of the gift at Mother’s death. 

However, if an heir who received an advancement predeceases, the property will not be considered an advancement against the share of the heir’s children, unless the declaration or acknowledgement says so.  So, going back to our example, if the son predeceased his Mother, and left living children, his children would be entitled to the full $50,000 stated in Mother’s Last Will and Testament unless the language of the advancement declaration or acknowledgement said otherwise.

For more information on advancements, seek the assistance of legal counsel experienced in probate matters.