When you serve as a personal representative, one of your duties is to make sure that you pay the debts your parent left behind. There are several steps that you need to take to complete this process.
You have to notify as many creditors as possible about your parent’s death. The Florida Bar says that you may not always know the identity of the creditors of the estate. In this situation, you may need to go through your parent’s records to determine who these creditors are. Once you have a reasonable idea, you can put out a public notice so that each one learns about the death.
What happens to each creditor?
Once creditors are aware of the death, they usually have to file a claim with the probate court. They typically need to do so within three months from the date that they heard from you. Once creditors file their claim, you can look through each one to make sure that it is valid. If you have any concerns, you can file an objection, and then the creditor has to demonstrate the validity of the claim.
How long can creditors file claims?
You may send out a notification of a parent’s death but fail to hear from some of the creditors. The Florida Legislature says that people cannot file a claim against the estate if it has been more than three months since you sent out notification of the death. Some of these creditors may have a valid claim. However, you do not have a legal obligation to pay the debt if the creditor has not filed a claim with the probate court.
You typically have to pay the legitimate claims before you can distribute the rest of the estate to the beneficiaries.