An overly-simplistic approach to probate proceedings can be dangerous for the person acting on behalf of the recently deceased. The instructions provided by a testator are not the only consideration during estate administration. Probate proceedings also require that you consider state law and federal rules.
The person serving as the personal representative or executor of the estate has a responsibility to fulfill the testator’s financial obligations in addition to carrying out their wishes as outlined in the will they drafted.
If they have numerous debts still owed when they die, it is crucial that you locate and pay those debts, or else you risk ending up personally responsible for them.
What does Florida probate law require?
According to state law, one of your most important roles during probate administration will involve notifying creditors and others with a financial interest in the estate about the upcoming probate proceedings.
You will need to give them an opportunity to make a claim in probate court for repayment. It is only after you have provided adequate notice and made payments as necessary that you can distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries of the estate.
If you make premature distributions and leave debts unpaid, private creditors and tax authorities could make a claim against you. You may have to take the embarrassing step of asking for inherited property back from some of the beneficiaries. If you cannot recover the improperly distributed assets to pay those creditors, they could very well hold you personally financially responsible for those debts or at least of the value of the assets you distributed.
Identifying debts and retaining assets is crucial for your protection
Carefully going over the financial records for the testator and comparing those debts to state law can help you make the right choices. From providing proper notice to the right parties to prioritizing the correct debts when you don’t have the resources to pay them all, the knowledge that you gain from learning about Florida’s rules for the debts of a deceased individual will help you eliminate the risk of facing personal financial responsibility for those accounts.
Having the right support during estate administration will reduce your chance of making a mistake that could lead to personal financial consequences.