Estate Planning in Florida: Understanding Creditor Claims
Most people carry some form of debt or other ongoing financial obligation through the entire course of their life. When an estate goes into the probate process in Florida, creditors can—and often will—attempt to make a claim against the estate in order to get a share of the proceeds. An important aspect of proper estate planning is preparing for creditors. Here, our Tampa estate planning attorney explains what you need to know about probate and creditor claims in Florida.
An Overview of Creditor Claims
Creditor claims come in many different forms. Though, they usually fit into one of two broad categories: day-to-day expenses and debts. Day-to-day expenses are defined as ongoing costs that are being incurred by the estate. One of the most common examples is property insurance. If a home is covered by the estate, you will want to keep it insured. Those insurance payments must be made. The estate needs to keep paying that claim. The more complicated creditor claims involve debts that have already been incurred. Debt may include:
- Mortgage payments;
- Auto loan payments;
- Credit cards;
- Student loans; and
- Tax debts.
How these debts should be dealt with in probate will depend entirely on the specific circumstances of the case. That being said, creditor claims must be addressed before anything can be finalized. An estate will not be able to move through the probate process until creditor claims have been resolved.
Creditors Must Be Notified
Under Florida law, estate administrators must comply with very strict notification requirements. The estate of a deceased person has a legal duty to attempt to resolve all valid debts. An important aspect of this obligation is informing all relevant creditors in a timely fashion. The statute of limitations can run relatively quickly in these cases—once creditors have been notified in the appropriate manner, it is their responsibility to pursue any claim.
How a Florida Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
One of the fundamental goals of estate planning is helping a person get their desired beneficiaries access to their inheritance. No one wants their life savings to be eaten away by overly aggressive creditors.
Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take in the estate planning process that can protect your assets. As an example, depending on your financial circumstances and your goals, it may be advisable to set up a trust for one of your heirs. Certain types provide some protection against creditors.
You do not have to go through the estate planning process alone. If you have questions about debt, creditors, or asset protection in general, an experienced Tampa estate planning attorney can help you devise the best strategy to protect your rights and your heirs.
Speak to Our Tampa, FL Estate Planning Lawyer Right Away
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our Florida estate planning attorneys are attentive, effective advocates for our clients. We can help you prepare for and deal with the complete range of creditor claims. If you have questions about creditor claims or estate planning in general, please do not hesitate to contact us at our Tampa law office for a confidential consultation.