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Florida Probate Statute 733.705: Payment of and Objection to Claims

The estate of a decedent must be settled. While this does involve distributing his (or her) assets others based on the decedent’s will, or based on Florida’s intestate succession rules, settling a decedent’s estate also means figuring out what do about claims made against the estate and debts owed by the decedent. Contrary to what many believe, debts do not necessarily go away because the debtor passes away. Under the Florida Probate Code there are specific rules related to how claims against an estate must be managed. If you have an interest in a probate proceeding and have questions related to the payment of debts, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.705- Payment of and objection to claims, contact a Fort Lauderdale probate attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who has the experience, knowledge, and resources to ensure that your interests are protected during the estate administration process.

Filing a Claim

The process for paying debts owed by an estate is managed by the personal representative who is appointed by the Florida probate court. While there are instances in which the personal representative will pay a debt without the creditor first filing a claim, typically a claim must be filed. The claim process begins with the personal representative notifying creditors. He (or she) does this by publishing a notice in a local newspaper and by personally serving known creditors with a notice.

Once notified, creditors have a very short timeframe to file their claims in writing. For creditors who were notified by publication, they have 3 months to file from the first date of publication. For creditors who were personally served, they have 30 days to file from the date of service. While there are a few exceptions, the general rule is that failure to file on time will result in the creditor being barred from collecting the debt owed by the estate.

Payment of and Objection to Claims

The personal representative will review each claim and make a decision as to whether or not to pay. Under FL. Stat, section 733.705- Payment of and objection to claims, the personal representative must pay all claims within 1 year from the date of first publication of notice to creditors. More time is allowed for claims that end up in litigation, claims that have not matured, and contingent claims. The court may also at its discretion extend the time the personal representative has to pay claims. The personal representative is not required to commence paying claims until at least 5 months has passed from the first publication of notice to creditors.

The personal representative or other interested party may file objections to claims. Objections must be filed no later than 4 months from the first date that notice was published, or within 30 days of the timely filing or amendment of a claim, whichever occurs later. The person objecting must serve a copy of the objection as required by the Florida Probate Rules. Otherwise, the probate court will consider the object abandoned. The court can extend time for serving a copy of the objection. For details as to what information must be included in an objection, contact a skilled probate lawyer in Fort Lauderdale.

If there is an objection to a claim the claimant may bring an independent action. The claimant must do so within 30 days from the date of service of the objection. For good cause, the court may extend the time for filing an action or proceeding after objection is filed. No action or proceeding on the claim may be brought against the personal representative after the time limited above, and the claim is barred without court order.

If a claim that has not matured has not become due before the time for distribution of an estate, the personal representative may prepay the full amount of principal plus accrued interest due on the claim, without discount and without penalty.

Insufficient Assets

Claims and expenses can be paid only if they are valid and only to the extent there are sufficient assets in the estate to pay them. If there are insufficient assets, then the personal representative will pay claims based on the order of preference outlined in the statute. For more information about which claims and expenses must be paid first, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale probate attorney.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Notice to creditors; filing of claims: § 733.2121, Fla. Stat.
  2. Notifying creditors: § 733.701, Fla. Stat.
  3. Limitations on presentation of claims: § 733.702, Fla. Stat.
  4. Amendment of claims: § 733.704, Fla. Stat.
  5. Order of payment of expenses and obligations: § 733.707, Fla. Stat.
FL. Stat, Section 733.705- Payment of and Objection to Claims
  1. The personal representative shall pay all claims within 1 year from the date of first publication of notice to creditors, provided that the time shall be extended with respect to claims in litigation, unmatured claims, and contingent claims for the period necessary to dispose of those claims pursuant to subsections (5), (6), (7), and (8). The court may extend the time for payment of any claim upon a showing of good cause. No personal representative shall be compelled to pay the debts of the decedent until after the expiration of 5 months from the first publication of notice to creditors. If any person brings an action against a personal representative within the 5 months on any claim to which the personal representative has not filed an objection, the plaintiff shall not receive any costs or attorneys’ fees, nor shall the judgment change the class of the claim for payment under this code.
  2. On or before the expiration of 4 months from the first publication of notice to creditors or within 30 days from the timely filing or amendment of a claim, whichever occurs later, a personal representative or other interested person may file a written objection to a claim. If an objection is filed, the person filing it shall serve a copy of the objection as provided by the Florida Probate Rules. The failure to serve a copy of the objection constitutes an abandonment of the objection. For good cause, the court may extend the time for filing or serving an objection to any claim. Objection to a claim constitutes an objection to an amendment of that claim unless the objection is withdrawn.
  3. If the objection is filed by a person other than the personal representative, the personal representative may apply to the court for an order relieving him or her from the obligation to defend the estate in an independent action or for the appointment of the objector as administrator ad litem to defend the action. Fees for the attorney for the administrator ad litem may be awarded as provided in s. 733.106(3). If costs or attorney’s fees are awarded from or against the estate, the probate court may charge or apportion that award as provided in s. 733.106(4).
  4. An objection by an interested person to a personal representative’s proof of claim shall state the particular item or items to which the interested person objects and shall be filed and served as provided in subsection (2). Issues of liability as between the estate and the personal representative individually for items listed in a personal representative’s proof of claim shall be determined in the estate administration, in a proceeding for accounting or surcharge, or in another appropriate proceeding, whether or not an objection has been filed. If an objection to an item listed as to be paid in a personal representative’s proof of claim is filed and served, and the personal representative has not paid the item, the other subsections of this section shall apply as if a claim for the item had been filed by the claimant; but if the personal representative has paid the claim after listing it as to be paid, issues of liability as between the estate and the personal representative individually shall be determined in the manner provided for an item listed as paid.
  5. The claimant is limited to a period of 30 days from the date of service of an objection within which to bring an independent action upon the claim, or a declaratory action to establish the validity and amount of an unmatured claim which is not yet due but which is certain to become due in the future, or a declaratory action to establish the validity of a contingent claim upon which no cause of action has accrued on the date of service of an objection and that may or may not become due in the future, unless an extension of this time is agreed to by the personal representative in writing before it expires. For good cause, the court may extend the time for filing an action or proceeding after objection is filed. No action or proceeding on the claim may be brought against the personal representative after the time limited above, and the claim is barred without court order. If an objection is filed to the claim of any creditor and the creditor brings an action to establish the claim, a judgment establishing the claim shall give it no priority over claims of the same class to which it belongs.
  6. A claimant may bring an independent action or declaratory action upon a claim which was not timely filed pursuant to s. 733.702(1) only if the claimant has been granted an extension of time to file the claim pursuant to s. 733.702(3).
  7. If an unmatured claim has not become due before the time for distribution of an estate, the personal representative may prepay the full amount of principal plus accrued interest due on the claim, without discount and without penalty, regardless of any prohibition against prepayment or provision for penalty in any instrument on which the claim is founded. If the claim is not prepaid, no order of discharge may be entered until the creditor and personal representative have filed an agreement disposing of the claim, or in the absence of an agreement until the court provides for payment by one of the following methods:
    1. Requiring the personal representative to reserve such assets as the court determines to be adequate to pay the claim when it becomes due; in fixing the amount to be reserved, the court may determine the value of any security or collateral to which the creditor may resort for payment of the claim and may direct the reservation, if necessary, of sufficient assets to pay the claim or to pay the difference between the value of any security or collateral and the amount necessary to pay the claim. If the estate is insolvent, the court may direct a proportionate amount to be reserved. The court shall direct that the amount reserved be retained by the personal representative until the time that the claim becomes due, and that so much of the reserved amount as is not used for payment be distributed according to law;
    2. Requiring that the claim be adequately secured by a mortgage, pledge, bond, trust, guaranty, or other security, as may be determined by the court, the security to remain in effect until the time the claim becomes due, and so much of the security or collateral as is not needed for payment be distributed according to law; or
    3. Making provisions for the disposition or satisfaction of the claim as are equitable, and in a manner so as not to delay unreasonably the closing of the estate.
  8. If no cause of action has accrued on a contingent claim before the time for distribution of an estate, no order of discharge may be entered until the creditor and the personal representative have filed an agreement disposing of the claim or, in the absence of an agreement, until:
    1. The court determines that the claim is adequately secured or that it has no value,
    2. Three months from the date on which a cause of action accrues upon the claim, provided that no action on the claim is then pending,
    3. Five years from the date of first publication of notice to creditors, or
    4. The court provides for payment of the claim upon the happening of the contingency by one of the methods described in paragraph (a), paragraph (b), or paragraph (c) of subsection (7),

    whichever occurs first. No action or proceeding on the claim may be brought against the personal representative after the time limited above, and the claim is barred without court order. If an objection is filed to the claim of any creditor and the creditor brings an action to establish the claim, a judgment establishing the claim shall give it no priority over claims of the same class to which it belongs.

  9. Interest shall be paid by the personal representative on written obligations of the decedent providing for the payment of interest. On all other claims, interest shall be allowed and paid beginning 5 months from the first publication of the notice to creditors.
  10. The court may determine all issues concerning claims or matters not requiring trial by jury.
  11. An order for extension of time authorized under this section may be entered only in the estate administration proceeding.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience helping personal representatives, beneficiaries, heirs, and others in matters related to the administration of estates, estate litigation, and other estate matters. If you have questions related to filing claims and paying estate debts, including the requirements of Florida Probate Code, section 733.705- Payment of and objection to claims, we can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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