Don’t Pay Creditors!

Do not let the creditors of your loved one's Florida estate pressure you into paying them before a Florida probate administration has even begun.  We see too often a client who has been harrassed into payment, just days or weeks after their family member has passed away, only to find out when they call us that those bills were not their responsibility to pay, or were paid too early.

Unless you have also signed as a person responsible for the debt (such as co-signing for a loan), you are generally not liable for your deceased family member's debts.  There is a process that estates go through to notify creditors (both known and unknown), and those creditors are required to file a claim in the estate by a certain time in order to collect.  If they do not file their claim in time, then their claim is barred forever unless they show "good cause" and convince the probate court to let them file their claim late.  Why would a creditor fail to file a claim? It could be incompetence, it could be that it was written off or paid by insurance, or it could be a corporate policy not to file claims under a certain amount.  Who knows?  What we do know is that many fail to file and therefore do not get paid.

Additionally, we successfully negotiate settlements with many creditors that do file a claim.  So paying your father's $5,000 in medical bills right away could be an overpayment of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.  Contact a probate attorney before you pay any creditors of the estate for more guidance on what to pay, when to pay it, and the limitation of your responsibilities as personal representative. 

And pay no attention to the threats of collection agencies (unless their is a lien or a mortgage that could be foreclosed).  Some collection agents just run through their list of "pressure points" without regard to the fact that the debtor has just died.  It is almost amusing when the debt collectors threaten to ruin the credit of the debtor- who is deceased.  As a certain television comedian used to say, "What's up with that?"