How Can a Personal Representative Find an Estate’s Creditors?
If you have been named as the personal representative of an estate in Florida, it is your responsibility to make sure all of the deceased person’s debts are paid before you distribute the estate’s assets to the heirs named in the will. This can often be a complicated process — after all, it’s difficult enough for many people to keep track of their own bills when they know what accounts they have.
As you begin the process of locating all of the estate’s creditors, it is important to stay organized. You may choose to use folders, spreadsheets or some other system if you are handling this process on your own. Alternatively, you may wish to seek the help of a probate administration attorney.
The first step in locating creditors is to search the deceased person’s home for bills, bank records and other paperwork that can show you which accounts exist and how much is owed on each one. Monthly bills or statements should come in the mail for most bank accounts and utilities. To locate other debts, you should request a copy of the decedent’s credit report.
Once you have located outstanding debts, you must notify the creditors of the decedent’s death. Florida law also requires the personal representative to publish a notice to all creditors in a newspaper published in the county where the estate is being administered.
While you will be responsible in your role as personal representative for ensuring that debts are paid, this does not mean you are under any obligation to pay the debts from your own funds. Instead, creditors are typically allowed to recover only from the estate’s assets. If the available assets are exceeded by the debt, the remaining debt cannot be recovered.
For help probating an estate, trust an experienced Florida probate administration attorney at the Charles Law Offices.