Whether a death is expected or unexpected, the deceased will probably die with some outstanding debts. It is the responsibility of the estate of the decedent to pay whatever outstanding debts are owed. If you are wondering whether a debt owed by a recently deceased person is collectible, a probate judge will make that decision for you under Florida Statutes. Normally, tax debts are collected first followed by probate fees and all other debts including mortgages, account payables and credit card bills.
In order to pay the remaining debts the executor of the estate will use estate assets, which may require selling off illiquid portions of the estate to create funds to pay the debts. However, if there are not enough assets in the estate to cover all the debts then you may be left wanting. A creditor must file a claim with the estate within a fixed date after the death of the debtor. Therefore, you will go onto a list of creditors to be paid if you meet this deadline. A creditor will always be paid before a beneficiary unless the beneficiary also can make a claim as a creditor. As a result, if an individual leaves their estate insolvent, creditors will end up with their pockets full while your beneficiaries end up with nothing.
With an economy still slow to recover, more and more estates are left insolvent. A Florida Estate Planning Lawyer or Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer may be able to assist you in creating an Florida Estate Plan that can protect assets from some types of creditors and allow your heirs to receive a larger portion of your estate. If you would like a Free Florida Probate Handbook, let us know