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How are debts handled during probate?

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2021 | Probate

Serving as executor for someone’s estate means you need to fulfill all their last wishes. It is your duty to carry out their instructions in their estate plan and to complete some unfinished business.

People who serve as executors have an obligation to distribute property to estate beneficiaries. However, one of your biggest responsibilities as executor comes from debts held by the testator. What debts do you have an obligation to repay as the executor of an estate?

You need to repay debts if the estate has assets

Creditors typically send statements to the people who owe them money, meaning that you will likely have an easy time tracking down account statements as an executor. Credit card bills, hospital statements and utility bills will likely all come directly to the residence of the deceased individual.

You may need to reach out to creditors or even post a public notice about the pending probate proceedings. Creditors can then bring claims against the estate. You will have to pay every valid debt that you can with estate assets.

Even if you have to sell off all of someone’s property to pay off their creditors, you must pay their debts before you distribute property to anyone. You have no obligation to repay debts once the assets in the estate run out. Still, if creditors discover that you distributed assets without repaying them, you could be liable for those debts.

Learning more about your obligations as executor can help you avoid probate mistakes that could have financial consequences for you or the beneficiaries of the estate.