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Ideally, no distributions to the beneficiaries under the will should be make until the estate is closed and closing letters received from the Internal Revenue Service and the State Tax Commission if estate tax returns were filed. This is not always possible, particularly in light of the fact that it generally takes a minimum of nine months to get a closing letter from the IRS. Beneficiaries are usually not that patient. The earliest an executor can close an estate is after the time to probate claims has expired and no claims have been probated. This is generally possible in estates that don't require estate tax returns, particularly when surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary.
After the time for probating claims against the estate has expired and estate taxes have been paid, a partial distribution to the beneficiaries may be in order, particularly if there are no unpaid claims outstanding against the estate and the closing attorney is comfortable that the estate tax return will be accepted by the IRS as filed.
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