How do creditors get paid?
Part of the probate process is to notify creditors of the death. Notice requirements vary. In some cases, you must provide direct notice. In others, you must publish a notice in a newspaper in the city where the decedent lived. Creditors must file a claim with the court for the amounts due within a fixed period of time.
If the executor approves the claim, the bill is paid out of the estate. If the executor rejects the claim, the creditor must sue for payment. If there is not enough money to pay all debts, state law determines who gets paid first. The personal representative most likely will sell property to pay approved creditor claims. Remaining claims are paid on a pro-rata basis.
If I am a beneficiary and the estate does not have enough money, do I have to pay creditors out of my own pocket?
Generally, no. The law says you cannot be made responsible for others’ general debts without your consent. Unless the decedent gave away his or her assets to someone shortly before dying, or otherwise acted in concert with them to defraud the creditors, the beneficiaries should not have to pay the creditors just because they are beneficiaries. There may be nothing left in the estate for the beneficiaries after paying the creditors. But, the beneficiaries will not owe the creditors money. Still, if the children or beneficiaries took property or benefits from the decedent or the estate, or assumed liability for care given the decedent, or guaranteed payment, they can be liable for some or all of the decedent’s debts separately.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
- Am I responsible for paying the rest of my deceased spouse’s bill?
- Are holographic wills valid in California?
- Do I have to leave assets to my children equally?
- Do I have to use a lawyer for the probate process?
- Does all property go through probate when a person dies?
- Does an executor or administrator receive compensation?
- Does the Court supervise the personal representative?
- How are taxes handled in probate?
- How can an estate plan avoid a conservatorship?
- How can I find out if there was a Will?
- How can I protect my children?
- How do creditors get paid?
- How long does probate take?
- How much does probate cost?
- How should I prepare to meet with my estate planning attorney?
- How will the debts of the decedent affect the beneficiaries?
- If I am named as executor in a Will, do I have to serve?
- If I establish a revocable living trust, will I lose control over my assets?
- If I serve as executor, will I get paid?
- If I transfer title to real property to my living trust, does the bank have the right to accelerate my mortgage?
- Is a will that was prepared in another state valid in California?
- Is it necessary to amend my will if I wish to bequeath certain assets to specific family members or friends?
- Is it possible to appoint a corporate trustee?
- Is my trust, which has title to my property, immune from lawsuits?
- Is probate necessary?
- Must I transfer all of my assets to my living trust?
- My child is married, and I don’t trust my child’s spouse. In the event they divorce, how can the inheritance be kept separate?
- Should estate planning documents be kept in a safe deposit box at a bank?
- Should I choose simplified probate procedures?
- Should I include a Medi-Cal planning section in my estate plan?
- What are disclaimer trusts and A-B trusts?
- What are the responsibilities of an executor or administrator?
- What does the Personal Representative do?
- What happens if the personal representative fails to perform his or her duty?
- What if someone dies and I have the Will in my possession?
- What if someone objects to the Will?
- What if the decedent owned land in more than one state?
- What if there is no Will or I cannot find a Will?
- What is a durable power of attorney?
- What is a pour-over will?
- What is a self-proving will?
- What is Probate?
- What is the best way to title pay-on-death bank accounts, retirement accounts and life insurance policies?
- What is the purpose of a life insurance trust?
- What would be the outcome if I became mentally disabled, and had no estate plan in place, or only had a will?
- When can a Will be contested?
- Who can and cannot be the personal representative?
- Who can contest a Will?