Florida Probate Statute 733.702: Limitations on Presentation of Claims
Estate administration is the process during which the estate of a decedent is settled and the assets that remain in his (or her) estate are distributed to the beneficiaries named in his will or to his heirs. Under Florida law, before the assets can be distributed, any expenses related to the administration of the estate as well as debts owed by the estate must be paid. It is up to the personal representative appointed by the Florida probate court to manage all of the activities involved in the estate administration process, including the payment of debts owed by the estate. Before any payments can be made, it is important that the personal representative understand the procedures that must be followed including the timeframe for presenting claims. To learn more about paying estate expenses and paying claims filed by creditors during the estate administration process, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.702- Limitations on presentation of claims, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale probate attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who has the experience and skill to ensure that claims against the estate are properly are processed according to the procedures outlines in the Florida Probate Code.Paying Estate Debts
One of the most important responsibilities of the personal representative is to make sure estate expenses and debts are paid. Valid debts and appropriate expenses are paid out of estate assets. Examples of estate debts include bills that the decedent owed at the time of his or her death such as credit card bills, medical bills, personal loans, car payments, and utility bills. Other debts are related to the administration of the estate. For example, under Florida law the personal representative is entitled to compensation based on the value of the estate. Attorneys are also entitled to compensation.
The process of paying debts involves a lot more than creditors sending the personal representative bills. First, the personal representative must notify creditors by publishing a notice. In certain cased the personal representative is required to notice to the creditors. Creditors then have a fairly brief window of time to file claims. Under FL. Stat, section 733.702- Limitations on presentation of claims, the timeframe is either 3 months from the date of the first publication of the notice, or for creditors to which the personal representative was required to serve notice, 30 days after the date of service. As an experienced probate attorney in Fort Lauderdale will explain, the statutory time limitation is critical because the provides that any claim that is not timely filed will be barred, unless the court extends the time in which the claim may be filed. The reasons that the court may extend the time for filing a claim include fraud, estoppel, or insufficient notice of the claims period. The personal representative has a year to pay claims.Order of Payment of Expenses and Obligations
Another important aspect of the payment of debts is that there is an order of payment. In other words, certain debts and expenses must be paid before others. If there are not sufficient assets in the estate to pay all expenses and debts, then the personal representative will may payments base on the order of priority.
The class of debts that must be paid first are 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 bills related to the funeral and interment of the decedent, including the costs of the grave marker. However, as an experienced Fort Lauderdale probate lawyer will explain, the fees must be reasonable. The next class debt is debt owed to the federal or state government such as taxes, unpaid court costs, fees, or fines. After that, the order of priority includes the decedent’s medical bills, the family allowance, child support, business-related debts, and all other debts.After Debts are Paid
After debts are paid, the personal representative can distribute assets that remain in the estate to the decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs. If because of payment of debt and expenses there are not sufficient assets to distribute as the will directs, the personal representative must make distributions based on statutory rules of abatement.Related Statutory Provisions
- Notifying creditors: § 733.701, Fla. Stat.
- Form and manner of presenting claim: § 733.703, Fla. Stat.
- Amendment of claims: § 733.704, Fla. Stat.
- Limitations on claims against estates: § 733.710, Fla. Stat.
- If not barred by s. 733.710, no claim or demand against the decedent’s estate that arose before the death of the decedent, including claims of the state and any of its political subdivisions, even if the claims are unmatured, contingent, or unliquidated; no claim for funeral or burial expenses; no claim for personal property in the possession of the personal representative; and no claim for damages, including, but not limited to, an action founded on fraud or another wrongful act or omission of the decedent, is binding on the estate, on the personal representative, or on any beneficiary unless filed in the probate proceeding on or before the later of the date that is 3 months after the time of the first publication of the notice to creditors or, as to any creditor required to be served with a copy of the notice to creditors, 30 days after the date of service on the creditor, even though the personal representative has recognized the claim or demand by paying a part of it or interest on it or otherwise. The personal representative may settle in full any claim without the necessity of the claim being filed when the settlement has been approved by the interested persons.
- No cause of action, including, but not limited to, an action founded upon fraud or other wrongful act or omission, shall survive the death of the person against whom the claim may be made, whether or not an action is pending at the death of the person, unless a claim is filed within the time periods set forth in this part.
- Any claim not timely filed as provided in this section is barred even though no objection to the claim is filed unless the court extends the time in which the claim may be filed. An extension may be granted only upon grounds of fraud, estoppel, or insufficient notice of the claims period. No independent action or declaratory action may be brought upon a claim which was not timely filed unless an extension has been granted by the court. If the personal representative or any other interested person serves on the creditor a notice to file a petition for an extension, the creditor shall be limited to a period of 30 days from the date of service of the notice in which to file a petition for extension.
- Nothing in this section affects or prevents:
- A proceeding to enforce any mortgage, security interest, or other lien on property of the decedent.
- To the limits of casualty insurance protection only, any proceeding to establish liability that is protected by the casualty insurance.
- The filing of a cross-claim or counterclaim against the estate in an action instituted by the estate; however, no recovery on a cross-claim or counterclaim shall exceed the estate’s recovery in that action.
- Nothing in this section shall extend the limitations period set forth in s. 733.710.
The skilled probate attorneys serving Fort Lauderdale at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing clients in matters related to the settling estates. If you have questions related to the duties and authority of the personal representative, including the requirements of Florida Probate Code, section 733.702- Limitations on presentation of claims, we can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.