Death can be unpredictable at times, and before it strikes, many individuals lack the necessary time and competence to address every source of debt within a will. If you have provided goods, services or a loan to an individual who passed away before providing you with compensation, you are considered a creditor. Per Florida probate laws, if you are legitimately owed funds from a decedent’s debt, you are authorized to file a creditor claim. A Gainesville probate lawyer can guide you through the process.
Creditor Claims & The Probate Process
A creditor claim is a legal document that requires filing with a probate court by a person or entity that is owed money from a deceased individual. If the claim is deemed legitimate, the owed funds will be released to the creditor during the probate administration process. This formal procedure allows a decedent's will to be evaluated and for his/her debts, assets and property to be distributed according to the will and state requirements. The funds owed to creditors are released from the decedent’s estate during the probate administration process. To understand if you qualify as a legitimate creditor and are authorized to file a creditor claim, it is best to contact a Gainesville probate attorney. There are specific rules and eligibility requirements that govern how creditor claims are addressed.
Under What Circumstances Can A Creditor Claim Be Filed?
The most important rule that potential creditors must be aware of is to avoid fraudulent claims. Many individuals believe that because an individual is no longer alive, they can request funds that may not necessarily be legitimate. These individuals should note that creditor claims go through scrupulous review and require extensive proof of documentation. If you desire to file a creditor claim against a decedent’s estate, the claim must be filed under the following conditions:
- Comprehensive truth and sincerity (i.e. even an inaccurate amount of the funds owed may result in a denial)
- Proper and timely submission
- Legal (i.e. creditor claims based off if “under the table” deals and/or illegal acts will not be accepted in a court of law)
- Extended proof (i.e. photographs, copies of receipts and other important documents that support that a debt is owed to the creditor)
If these basic requirements are not met, it is likely that a credit claim will not be approved.
There are many circumstances that may be considered legitimate for a creditor claim. In most cases, it is the result of a legitimate loan that is provided to a decedent with the intent to be reimbursed; goods and services that an individual provides for delayed and/or expected compensation (i.e. personal employers such as maids, personal assistants etc.); or goods and services that are provided by an organization or entity on a contract or other protected plan. If you are uncertain whether your unique circumstance qualifies for a proper creditor claim, it is highly suggested that you contact an experienced probate attorney in Gainesville, FL.
Filing A Proper Creditor Claim
There is a special process required for filing a proper creditor claim.
Step 1: First, creditors should locate and gather as many supporting documents of proof as possible before filing a claim and as soon as an individual’s death is made known. There is a 60 day period in which creditor claims are accepted after an individual’s death. In some rare and special occasions however, a creditor claim may still be accepted after this deadline. If you miss the deadline to file your creditor claim, you will need to contact a probate lawyer in Gainesville, FL, as soon as possible.
Step 2: After gathering supportive documentation that demonstrates the amount of debt that is owed, as well as the specific time/date and stipulations of the loan, creditors are required to file a claim with a probate court.
Step 3: Once the claim is filed, creditors must send a copy of the filed claim to the decedent’s appointed personal representative within 30 business days. If this copy is not sent to the personal representative, the claim will be considered invalid.
Step 4: After receipt of the copy of the creditor claim, the personal representative will be expected to act in good faith and review your claim carefully. He/she has the power to deny or approve your claim. The personal representative is required to file the action with the court and send the creditor a copy of the document.
Step 5: Wait for your reimbursement as the probate administration process continues. You may be requested to provide a copy of a signed receipt to the decedent’s personal representative.
There are cases in which a creditor claim may be denied. When this happens, it may be the result of procedural errors such as poor, inadequate and/or late filing of a claim; failure to provide a copy of the filed claim to the decedent’s personal representative; negligence of the personal representative and/or overall illegitimacy of the creditor claim. Creditors who believe that their claims are legitimate may file suit after consulting with a probate attorney in Gainesville, FL.
Creditors should also note that during the probate administration process, there are countless needs to be address. Consider the decedent’s widow/widower and his/her children. The decedent’s estate is always divided and distributed according to the will, state requirements and prioritization of responsibilities. As such, items such as debts owed to the state and spousal/child support are considered to be of a greater priority than the needs of a creditor. In many cases, creditor claims are addressed last. In the event that a decedent’s funds prove to be insufficient to fully cover the amount of funds or property owed to a creditor, there are alternative solutions.
Gainesville Probate Attorneys
At Silverman, Mack & Associates, our probate law firm is equipped with experienced lawyers who are not only well-versed in Florida probate law; but our Gainesville probate attorneys share a unique passion for handling the business matters of decedents. There is no greater feeling of agony than being owed legitimate funds and not having access to such funds because of life’s unpredictable circumstances. If you desire to file a successful creditor claim, contact one of our Gainesville probate lawyers today.
We offer free initial consultations to lessen any existing burdens.