What You Need to Know About Creditors During Probate

When someone passes away, their financial obligations do not simply vanish; they transition into what’s termed as “creditor claims” in probate. This phase is crucial for creditors to recover what was owed by the deceased. It involves a detailed legal process that demands attention to specific deadlines for submitting claims against the deceased’s estate. Failing to adhere to these timelines can result in creditors being unable to collect their dues, potentially leading to personal liability for the personal representative.

Understanding Creditor Claims

A creditor claim in Florida probate is a formal request by a person or entity to whom the deceased owed money. Filing this claim is a necessary step for creditors to potentially receive payment from the estate. In Florida, the law requires (Florida Statutes 732.224) that every personal representative, who is typically a family member or a trusted friend of the deceased, must publish and serve a notice to creditors. This notice informs creditors of the probate and invites them to file their claims and starts the clock for them to collect.

Deadlines for Filing Creditor Claims

The deadlines for filing a creditor claim depend significantly on how the creditor is categorized and how they were informed about the probate process:

For Known or Reasonably Ascertainable Creditors: These creditors should receive direct notice of the probate proceedings. They have the right to file a claim within the later of three months after the time of the first publication of the notice to creditors or thirty days after they receive direct service of the notice. If they are not served with the notice, they have up to two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file their claims, as the limitations period only begins once the notice is served.

For Unknown Creditors: Those who do not receive direct notice (typically because they are not known or easily ascertainable) are informed via publication in a newspaper. They must file their claims within three months from the date of the first publication of the notice to creditors.

Challenges and Objections to Creditor Claims

Once a claim is filed, it doesn’t have to be the end of the process. Claims can be challenged or objected to by the personal representative or other interested parties, such as beneficiaries or other creditors. Objections must be made either before the expiration of four months from the first publication of the notice to creditors or within 30 days from the timely filing or amendment of a claim, whichever is later. This process ensures that all claims are thoroughly reviewed and validated.

If an objection is filed, the creditor has 30 days from the notice of the objection to take action. They can either pursue an independent action to enforce the claim, which involves initiating a separate legal process to prove the validity of their claim, or choose not to proceed, in which case the claim may be considered abandoned.

Tackling Probate Challenges Together

Missed deadlines can mean missed opportunities to settle debts or dispute when necessary. Don’t let the probate process overwhelm you. Contact Zamora Hillman & Villavicencio Attorneys at Lawtoday to ensure your interests are protected with the diligence you deserve. Call (305) 285-0285 to schedule your consultation now and take the first step towards resolving (or preventing) your probate challenges effectively!

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Zamora, Hillman & Villavicencio

Our firm deals with legal matters involving your loved ones, and our familial operation is prepared to give you caring and effective counsel during what might be a difficult or emotional time.

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