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Beware Of Known And Reasonably Ascertainable Creditors


The fun part of estate planning is daydreaming about enjoying retirement and about being generous to your descendants.  In fact, you might even spend your first few sessions with an estate planning lawyer focusing on your dreams of your golden years and of creating generational wealth.  Eventually, though, you will need to confront your fears, not just your fear of death, but your fear of the strife and financial hardship that could result for your family based on how you do or don’t manage your finances and your estate plan.  You have probably heard both sides of the argument about whether to transfer money and real estate properties to your children while you are alive or to let them inherit them after you are gone, but one can also make a case for paying down your debts being the best estate planning gift you can give your children.  Dealing with creditors during probate is a major hassle, and an estate planning lawyer can help you develop an estate plan that involves tackling your debt.  Meanwhile, if you are the personal representative of an estate, an Orange County probate lawyer can help your rights and fulfill your obligations to creditors who claim debts from the estate.

The Statute of Limitations for Claiming a Debt from an Estate: It’s Complicated

In theory, the statute of limitations for claiming a debt from the estate of a deceased person is two years from the decedent’s death, but this would require the estate to stay open that long.  It is in your interest as the personal representative of the estate, as well as in the interest of all the beneficiaries, for the estate to settle more quickly than that.  The personal representative can wrap up unfinished business regarding the decedent’s debts in a timely manner by publishing a notice to creditors in the local newspaper.  The notice must contain the following information:

  • The decedent’s name
  • The name and address of the court where probate is taking place
  • The name and address of the personal representative
  • The name and address of the personal representative’s attorney
  • The date the notice first appeared in the newspaper

The statute of limitations for filing a claim then becomes three months from the publication date of the notice.

The personal representative must also identify all “known and reasonably ascertainable creditors” and serve them with a notice to creditors.  They can file a claim within three months of the date of service or request an extension of time to file a claim within 30 days of the date of service.  You can find out the parties to whom the decedent might owe money by looking at the decedent’s mail, bank statements, and checkbooks.  Even if you do this, unknown creditors might try to persuade the probate court that they are reasonably ascertainable creditors.

Contact Us Today for Help

An Orlando probate lawyer can help you deal with claims from creditors who are trying to collect debts from the estate.  Contact Gierach and Gierach, P.A. for help today.



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