Florida Probate Statute 733.710: Limitations on Claims Against Estates
In Florida, the job of a personal representative is to take care of the activities required to tie up the loose ends of a decedent’s estate. One of the major activities is to transfer title of the decedent’s probate assets to his (or her) beneficiaries or heirs. However, another important activity is to clear up the debts and obligations of the decedent. There are specific rules that the personal representative and claimants must follow in order to comply with the requirements of the Florida Probate Code. Whether you are a personal representative, beneficiary, creditor, or other interested party, to learn more about the process for paying estate debts during the Estate administration process, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.710- Limitations on claims against estates, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale probate attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experience representing clients in complex estate matters, we have the skill and knowledge to ensure that all of the requirements of the Florida Probate Code are followed and that your interests are protected.Steps in the Estate Claim Process
The personal representative is appointed by the Florida probate court to oversee the activities required to settle a decedent’s estate. These activities include inventorying the estate, paying estate debt and expenses, responding to claims, filing tax forms, paying taxes, and distributing assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs.
The steps in the estate claims process include:
Personal representative notifies creditors. One of the first things that the personal representative must do in the estate administration process is notify the decedent’s creditors that the decedent passed away and that his (or her) estate is going through an estate administration process. Both known creditors and “unknown” creditors must be notified. The personal representative must make a diligent effort identify the decedent’s creditors. The personal representative must personally notify known creditors by serving them with the notice. He (or she) must also publish notice in local newspaper. This allows unknown creditors to receive notice of the probate proceeding.
Creditors file claims. Another reason for notifying creditors in the manner described in the Florida Probate Code is to put creditors on notice of the timeframe in which they must file a claim. For creditors who receive personal service, they must file claims within 30 days of service. For creditors who are notified through publication, they must file their claims within 3 months of the date that the notice was first published. As an experienced Fort Lauderdale probate lawyer will explain, with a few exceptions, failure to adhere to those timelines will result in the claim being barred. However, under FL. Stat, section 733.710- Limitations on claims against estates, the estate is not liable for any claim filed 2 years after the decedent passed away.
Creditors must file claims in writing. The claims must state the name and address of the claimant and his or her attorney, if any. It must also state the basis for the claim and the amount of the claim.
Personal representative of interested party objects to claims. The law allows both the personal representative and other interested parties to object to claims. The objector must filed his or her objection 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. The objector is required to serve a copy of the objection according to the procedure described in the Florida Probate Rules. If the objector fails to serve a copy of the object, the probate court will conclude that the objection was abandoned.
Personal representative determines which claims to pay. Just because a claimant files a claim does not mean that the personal representative will pay it. The personal representative will not pay any claim that it deems to be invalid. If the personal representative decides not to pay a claim, the claimant has the right to bring an independent action.
Personal representative pays 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. All approved claims must be paid within 1 year of the date of the first publication of notice to creditors. Claims are paid out of estate assets. The personal representative is not personally liable for paying claims unless he (or she) is negligent or in some other way violate his fiduciary duty with respect to paying claims. For example, if a creditor files a claim on time, the claim is valid, and there are sufficient funds in the estate to pay the claim, but instead of paying the claim the personal representative all of the assets to beneficiaries or heirs, the court may conclude that the personal representative is personally liable for paying the amount due the creditor.
There are occasions when an estate does not have sufficient funds to pay all claims even before distributions have been made. If this happens, the personal representative must apply the Probate Code’s rules of preference to determine which valid claims get paid and which do not. Claims are divided into categories, and the categories are each assigned a priority. For example, expenses associated with the administration of an estate are top in priority. They are paid first. Next in priority are expenses related to the funeral and burial of the decedent. There are a total of 8 categories. For more information on which types of debts and expenses fit into each of the 8 categories, contact an experienced probate attorney in Fort Lauderdale.Related Statutory Provisions
- 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.
- Executions and levies: § 733.706, Fla. Stat.
- Compromise: § 733.708, Fla. Stat.
- Notwithstanding any other provision of the code, 2 years after the death of a person, neither the decedent’s estate, the personal representative, if any, nor the beneficiaries shall be liable for any claim or cause of action against the decedent, whether or not letters of administration have been issued, except as provided in this section.
- This section shall not apply to a creditor who has filed a claim pursuant to s. 733.702 within 2 years after the person’s death, and whose claim has not been paid or otherwise disposed of pursuant to s. 733.705.
- This section shall not affect the lien of any duly recorded mortgage or security interest or the lien of any person in possession of personal property or the right to foreclose and enforce the mortgage or lien.
Creditors who are owed money by an estate will be anxious to get paid. However, it is important that proper procedures are followed by the personal representative. If the personal representative fails to do so, he or she may be personally liable. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience working closely with personal representative and other interested parties in all aspects of estate administration. We can help. If you have questions related to the duties and authority of personal representative, including the requirements of Florida Probate Code, section 733.710- Limitations on claims against estates. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.