Does the Personal Representative of the Estate have to pay the bills of the decedent which were owed prior to death?

Does the Personal Representative of the Estate have to
pay the bills of the decedent which were owed prior to
death?

The answer to this question is not simple. The general answer is yes, but it is qualified.

The individuals and businesses in which the decedent owed money, are referred to as “creditors” in Florida’s probate code. Typical creditors are credit card companies, doctors, hospitals, and lenders. They are entitled to be paid from available probate assets; which begs another question.

What are probate assets? Probate assets are any property that the decedent held in his or her own name individually.  A joint bank account held with a spouse is not a probate asset. The spouse becomes the full owner of the money in the joint account upon death. However, a bank account held in the decedent’s name only, which does not have a “payable on death” designation is a probate asset.

The other qualification is whether the creditor files a statement of claim in the court where the probate has been opened, within thirty days of when they receive notice that a probate has been open. Only those creditors filing a timely claim, are entitled to be paid. The job of the Personal Representative is to obtain copies of bills or invoices showing the address of the creditors so that their attorney can notify them. The document which provides the notification is called “Notice to Creditors”.

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