How Does a Florida Estate Deal with Creditor Claims?
Estate litigation does not always involve heirs of the deceased. Oftentimes there are disputes involving the creditors of the deceased as well. The Personal Representative is responsible for paying any valid creditor claims from the assets of the Estate. But what makes a claim valid? And what happens when there is not enough money to pay all of the creditors?
The Deadlines for Receiving Creditor Claims
Florida law establishes certain deadlines for submitting creditor claims. These deadlines are necessary so as to ensure the timely administration of an Estate. When a new probate estate is opened, the Personal Representative must publish a Notice to Creditors informing them of their legal right to present a claim to the Estate.
The Personal Representative must also make a good faith effort to search for known creditors of the deceased. For example, if the Personal Representative finds an unpaid credit card bill among the decedent’s papers, it stands to reason the credit card company is likely to present a claim against the Estate. The Personal Representative must therefore serve notice directly to the credit card company and any other “reasonably ascertainable” creditors.
When a creditor receives such direct notice, they can have as little as 30 days to file a claim against the Estate. If a known or reasonably ascertainable creditor did not receive notice from the Personal Representative, then this deadline can be extended for up to 2 years. For all other creditors–those the Personal Representative could not reasonably have known about–the deadline is 3 months from the date the Notice to Creditors is published in the newspaper.
All of these deadlines function like a statute of limitations. That is to say, if a claim is filed even 1 day past the applicable deadline, the Personal Representative is under no obligation to pay it.
Speak with a Florida Probate Litigation Attorney Today
Creditor claims can often make it more difficult to settle an estate. If you need advice from an experienced Pompano Beach estate and trust litigation attorney, contact Mark R. Manceri, P.A., Attorney at Law, today to schedule a consultation.