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Florida Probate Statute 733.701: Notifying Creditors

When someone dies, his (or her) affairs must be settled. The person that is responsible for the activities required to settle a decedent’s estate is the personal representative. The personal representative is appointed by the probate court judge in Florida during a process called probate or estate administration. There are numerous activities and steps that the personal representative must follow. One of the steps for which the personal representative is responsible is paying debts owed by the decedent. However, there are specific rules that must be followed before the personal representative can make payments to creditors. Whether you are a personal representative, creditor, or beneficiary, to learn more about payment of creditors during the estate administration process, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.701- Notifying creditors, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate administration attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who understands the notice requirements of the Florida Probate Code.

Responsibilities of the Personal Representative

A personal representative is the individual appointed by the Florida probate court to settle the estate of a decedent. If the decedent left a will, the personal representative is typically the person named in the will. However, regardless of whether or not the decedent nominated someone in a will, anyone wishing to serve as a personal representative must petition the court and the court must grant the petition. If the court grants the petition, it will issue the petitioner letters of administration.

Once the personal representative has been formally appointed, there are several activities that he or she must complete. While for beneficiaries or heirs the most important step may be the distribution of assets, paying estate debts is also of great importance in the estate administration process. In fact, typically estate assets cannot be distributed until the debts are paid.

The initial activities in the administration process involve inventorying the estate. This is an important step because this is where the value of the estate is determined. It is up to the personal representative to collect estate assets, and determine their value as of the date of the decedent’s death. This step may require a professional appraiser. Once the personal representative knows the value of the estate, he (or she) will understand what is available to pay debts and to distribute. After the inventory, the next major step is paying estate debts expenses, followed by assets distribution. If you have additional questions related to inventorying estate assets, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer.

Paying Estate Debts

The personal representative is required to pay all valid debts of the estate that are timely filed. In order to give creditors the opportunity to file claims, the personal representative is required to notify creditors. Under FL. Stat, section 733.701- Notifying creditors, every personal representative must notify creditors by way of service and publication. Claims must be filed within 3 months from the date of the first publication of the notice to creditors or 30 days after the date of service to the creditor.

However, as an experienced estate administration attorney in Fort Lauderdale will explain, just because a claim is timely filed does not mean that it will be paid. The personal representative will pay debts only to the extent that there are sufficient assets in the estate to pay such debts. The personal representative is not personally liable to pay debts where there are insufficient assets. There is an order of priority that the personal representative must follow in determine which debts to pay. Top priority goes to costs and expenses related to the administration of the decedent’s estate. This includes compensation to the personal representative as well as attorney fees. Next in priority are the expenses related to the funeral and burial of the decedent, followed by debts owed to the federal or state governments, the decedent’s medical bills, the family allowance, child support, business-related debts, and all other debts.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Notice to creditors; filing of claims: § 733. 2121, Fla. Stat.
  2. Limitations on presentation of claims: § 733.702, Fla. Stat.
  3. Form and manner of presenting claim: § 733.703, Fla. Stat.
  4. Amendment of claims: § 733.704, Fla. Stat.
  5. Payment of and objection to claims: § 733.705, Fla. Stat.
  6. Limitations on claims against estates: § 733.710, Fla. Stat.
FL. Stat, Section 733.701- Notifying Creditors

Unless creditors’ claims are otherwise barred by s. 733.710, every personal representative shall cause notice to creditors to be published and served under s. 733.2121.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have over 2 decades of experience representing clients with skill and compassion in matters related to the administration of estates. If you have questions related to the duties and authority of personal representative, including the requirements of Florida Probate Code, section 733.701- Notifying creditors, we can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.