1. The Need for Advancement
2. Characteristics of Advancement
3. How to Reduce the Likelihood of Conflicts Resulting From Advancement

Advancement legal definition? Advancement or ademption refers to a gift of property or money that a person may give to his child or legal heir with the intention that the value of that gift will be deducted from that person's inheritance after the giver's death. Advancement is like an advance to the heir of a portion of his share of the estate. Advancement only applies when the giver dies without leaving a legal will. In the general business law, advancement may refer to payout that is made ahead of time before it is supposed to be made.

The Need for Advancement

The concept of advancement has its origins in England and the idea arose as a result of the need for parents to take care of the immediate needs of their children. Advancement became the perfect solution for parents who wanted to gift big portions of their estate to some of their heirs without reducing the eventual share of the other heirs. Advancement is the course of wisdom in a number of circumstances including the following:

  • A parent may offer his heir an advancement to take care of the child's education.
  • An heir may need to invest and waiting for the inheritance would result in missed opportunities.

Although advancement is sometimes used in reference to people who have died after making a valid will, legally speaking, advancement applies to people who have died without leaving a valid will.

For example, Michael, a parent intends to live $1 million to his son Joe and Andrew. However, before his father's death, Joe approaches his father and ask for $100,000 to invest in real estate property. Michael gives his son Joe $100,000 under the understanding that it will be deducted from his eventual share of the father's estate after Michael's death, leaving the estate at $900,000. The $100,000 constitutes an advancement. If Michael dies without leaving a will and his only heirs are his sons Joe and Andrew, each of them would be entitled to a 50% share of the estate. Without taking into account the advancement given to Joe, Andrew and Joe would each get $450,000. But since Joe already received an advancement of $100,000, Michael's Estate Would be calculated to be worth $1 million and not $900,000. Therefore, Andrew would be given $500,000 leaving Joe's share at $400,000.

Characteristics of Advancement

  • Advancement is different from a gift or a loan. In case of a loan by a parent to a child, the money will eventually be repaid but the heir does not pay back the money given as advancement.
  • Advancement differs from giving a gift. While a gift is unconditional, advancement is under the condition that the amount will be deducted from the heir's inheritance.
  • Advancement normally applies to descendants of a giver and not to a widow or parent.
  • The child is not required to account for or refund the advancement.
  • Advancement applies to major gifts to the heirs. Small gifts that a parent would naturally give to their children, for instance, on special occasions do not count as advancement.
  • The Uniform Probate Code which has been adopted by 18 US states requires that, for advancement to be valid, there must be some form of writing proving that the gift given was given as an advance.

How to Reduce the Likelihood of Conflicts Resulting From Advancement

Disposing of the estate of a person who has died without leaving a will is sometimes contentious because of counter-claims from potential heirs. Advancement is not any different. Beneficiaries of advancement may claim that the amount they received was a gift and not an advancement. The absence of a will may mean that there is no straightforward way to determine if the amount given was an advance or a gift.

Courts in many states require that the person giving an advancement should write a statement or give a signed receipt proving that the gift given is supposed to be deducted from the heir's inheritance. However, courts in other states contend that advancement can either be express or implied.

The laws on advancement differ from state to state. In some states, advancement can only be made by the father and not the mother while in other states they can be made by either parent. Consult an inheritance lawyer for details about advancement.

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