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Florida Probate Statute 733.706: Executions and Levies

The death of a loved one presents many challenges for the family. In addition to the emotional suffering, the family must go through the often difficult process of settling his (or her) estate. Settling an estate involves determining which assets are part of the decedent’s probate estate, determining their value, paying debts, and distributing the assets. Each of these steps must be completed in a manner that is consistent with the Florida Probate Code. For example, there are requirements related to dealing with claims that are filed against the estate and debts that must be paid out of estate assets. To learn more about the estate administration process, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.706- Executions and levies, 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.

Personal Representative

In Florida the person who is responsible for estate administration is the personal representative. If the decedent left a will, the personal representative is typically the individual nominated in the will. Otherwise, individuals can petition the court for the job. In either case, the court must formally appoint the personal representative and issue him (or her) letters of administration authorize him to act on behalf of the estate. The court will only appointed someone who is qualified and eligible.

Claims Against an Estate

The personal representative is responsible for the activities necessary to settled a decedent’s estate, including paying estate debts and addressing claims.

Paying estate debts is but one of the many responsibilities of the personal representative. Before paying debts he must collect, inventory, and appraise estate assets. Paying debts is next, followed by distributing assets.

Process for Paying Claims

While in some instances the personal representative will pay estate debts without having received a claim, typically a claim must be filed. The first step in the process is for the personal representative to notify creditors of the decedent’s death. This is done by publishing a notice in a local paper and by sending notices to known creditors.

Payment of claims is a critical part of the estate administration process. Typically assets cannot be distributed until claims are paid. When the personal representative sends notice, he the clock starts to run for when creditors must file their claims. For example, if the notice was by publication, then the creditor has 3 months from the date the notice was first published to file claim. If the creditor was personally served, then the creditor has 30 days from the date service was made. 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. Typically the personal representative pays valid claims right away, but he has up to a year to pay claims. The personal representative or any other interested party can object to a claim.

There are additional rules as to what creditors who filed claims against an estate can and cannot do. For example under Florida Statutes, section 733.706- Executions and levies, no execution or other process shall issue on or be levied against property of the estate. An order approving execution or other process to be levied against property of the estate may be entered only in the estate administration proceeding.

In addition, if a creditor has a judgment against the decedent, the creditor must file a claim against the estate just like any other creditor.

Payment of Debt

The personal representative has a year to pay claims. He can only pay claims to the extent there are funds in the estate to pay them. If there is not enough money in the estate to pay all debts, the personal representative will pay debts based on who they are classified. Under the probate code, some debts are must be paid before other debts. For example, the top priority is the payment of expenses related to administration of the estate. The next in priority are expenses related to the funeral services and burial of the decedent, followed by debts owed to the federal or state government such as income taxes or court fines and fees.

If a debt is part of a category that is low on the list of preference, such as debts based on claims founded on judgments or decrees rendered against the decedent during the decedent’s lifetime, there is a less of chance that the debt will paid if the estate is short on assets.

Asset Distribution

After debts are paid, the personal representative can move forward and distribute assets. If the decedent left a will, then the assets will be paid to the beneficiaries named in the will. If the decedent died intestate then the personal representative must distribute assets based on the rules of intestate succession. This means that estate property will go to the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, or other next of kin.

As a skilled estate administration attorney in Fort Lauderdale will explain, if an estate is insufficient assets to pay all debts, there is a good chance that beneficiaries and heirs will not receive any distribution.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Notifying creditors: § 733.701, Fla. Stat.
  2. Limitations on presentation of claims: § 733.702, Fla. Stat.
  3. Form and manner of presenting claim: § 733.703, Fla. Stat.
  4. Payment of and objection to claims: § 733.705, Fla. Stat.
  5. Order of payment of expenses and obligations: § 733.707, Fla. Stat.
FL. Stat, Section 733.706- Executions and Levies

Except upon approval by the court, no execution or other process shall issue on or be levied against property of the estate. An order approving execution or other process to be levied against property of the estate may be entered only in the estate administration proceeding. Claims on all judgments against a decedent shall be filed in the same manner as other claims against estates of decedents. This section shall not be construed to prevent the enforcement of mortgages, security interests, or liens encumbering specific property.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have spent over 20 years helping personal representatives, beneficiaries, heirs, and others with legal matters related to estate administration. We can help with issues related to the duties of the personal representative, asset distribution, estate litigation, and claims against the estate, including the requirements of Florida Probate Code, section 733.706- Executions and levies, we can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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