As a continuation of the probate in Florida topic, this article is going to address what obligations an estate has to creditors. Probate litigation is not just used by family members to administer or contest an estate. Creditors are given a set period of time to make claims against the estate as well.
Paying the decedent’s debts is actually one of the main purposes of probate. The estate’s personal representative is required to give all known creditors reasonable notice of the decedent’s passing, so that any claims they may have can be filed. In Florida, creditors are given three months to file these claims. After that time, they may no longer able to request payment for any outstanding debts.
It may be possible to fight creditor claims. If a creditor files a claim against an estate with which the personal representative believes is inappropriate, the representative may file an objection to the statement of claim. If this happen, the creditor will then be required to file a separate lawsuit in order to pursue payment of the claim.
According to the state of Florida, distributions cannot be made to beneficiaries until debts, taxes and all other expenses are appropriately addressed and paid. Depending on the actions of all those involved in this process, probate litigation could take a significant amount of time or it can be completed fairly quickly. A representative who feels that any creditor claims made against an estate are not legitimate can seek help with fighting the claims in an effort to protect the estate and ensure beneficiaries receive what was intended for them.
Source: floridabar.org, “Probate In Florida Pamphlet: 13. What are the estate’s obligations to estate creditors?”, Feb. 10, 2016