Florida Probate Statute 733.704: Amendment of Claims
In Florida, one of the purposes of estate planning is to create a plan for transferring wealth. When someone passes away, the property in the decedent’s estate must be passed on to others. During the process of estate administration, decisions must be made as to who gets the decedent’s property and how to wrap up any loose ends. In other words, all of the decedent’s outstanding matters must be resolved. This includes figuring out what to do about debts the decedent owed at the time of death. These decisions are made during the process of estate administration and are handled by the probate court appointed personal representative. To learn more about the process of settling a decedent’s estate, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.704- Amendment of claims, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate administration attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who has the experience and skill to ensure that all of the requirements of the Florida Probate Code are followed.Duties of the Personal Representative
Sometimes referred to as an executor or estate administrator, the personal representative is responsible for taking care of the tasks necessary to settle the affairs of a decedent. In order to serve as personal representative, you must be eligible, qualified, and appointed by the probate court.
Paying estate debts is but one of several responsibilities of the personal representatives. The primary responsibilities include:
- Collecting, inventorying, and appraising estate assets
- Paying estate debts and expenses
- Filing tax returns and paying taxes
- Distributing assets
While making sure that estate debts are paid is one of the priorities of estate administration, before debts can be paid, the personal administrator must know the value of the estate before moving forward with paying debt. This means that upon being appointed, the personal representative must take immediate action to inventory the estate and determining its value. For more information about inventorying an estate, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer.Notifying Creditors
The personal representative must notify creditors of the decedent’s death. The notification is important because it starts the clock running for when the creditors must file claims. There are two ways that the personal representative must notify creditors. A notice must be published. This is a way to put all creditors—known and unknown—on notice of the decedent’s death and that his (or her) estate is in the process of being settled. The notice must be published for 2 consecutive weeks in a newspaper that is published in the county where the estate is administered. The notice must include the name of the decedent, the file number of the estate, the name and address of the personal representative as well as the personal representative’s attorney, the address of the court, the date when the notice was first published. Creditors notified in this manner must file claims within 3 months of when the notice was first published.
The second type of notice is personally served on the creditor. This is required for known creditors. The personal representative is required to make a diligent effort to determine the names and addresses of creditors. Creditors who are personally served have 30 days from the date of service to file a claim.
Failure to file a claim within the required period may result in the claim being forever barred. However, there are exceptions to this general rule. Contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale estate administration attorney to discuss the specifics of your claim and the filing rules.Filing Claims and Amendment of Claims
Claims must be in writing. It must include details as to the basis of the claim, the name and address of the claimant and his or her attorney (if any), and the amount of the claim. However, under FL. Stat, section 733.704- Amendment of claims, just because there was an issue in how the claim was filed, does not mean that it is barred. If a creditor made a genuine attempt to file a claim timely, but the claim is defective as to form, the court may permit the amendment of the claim at any time.Paying Estate Debts
The job of the personal representative is to pay only valid estate debts and expenses out of estate assets. If a claim is filed timely, the personal representative must decide whether or not to pay it or to object to it. Other interested parties my object to a claim as well. If there is an object to a claim and the personal representative declines to pay it, the creditor must file a lawsuit in civil court and the court will determine whether or the estate must pay the claim. If the personal representative determines that a claim will be paid, he has a year to do so.
Another reason that a personal representative may decline to pay a claim is because the estate does not have sufficient assets to pay it. When there are insufficient assets, the personal must pay claims based on how they are classified. Under the Florida Probate Code there is an order for priority for how claims must be paid, based on how they are classified. For example, top priority goes to paying expenses related to administering the estate, such as the fee due to the personal representative.Related Statutory Provisions
- Notice to creditors; filing of claims: § 733.2121, Fla. Stat.
- Notifying creditors: § 733.701, Fla. Stat.
- Limitations on presentation of claims: § 733.702, Fla. Stat.
- Payment of and objection to claims: § 733.705, Fla. Stat.
If a bona fide attempt to file a claim is made but the claim is defective as to form, the court may permit the amendment of the claim at any time.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing clients in matters related to the administration of estates, estate litigation, and other estate matters. Estate administration can be complicated. It is imperative that the personal representative and anyone other person who has an interest in a probate proceeding work with someone who understands the nuances of Florida probate law in order to avoid making costly errors. If you have questions related to the duties and authority of personal representative, including the requirements of Florida Probate Code, section 733.704- Amendment of claims, we can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.