Creditors of the Estate

The primary purpose of probate estate administration discussed thus far has been the distribution of the decedent’s property to devisees provided for in a will or descendants receiving through intestacy laws. However, the protection of creditors of the estate is another primary purpose of probate estate administration.

Probate procedure offers creditors an opportunity to file a claim against the estate. Creditors must file their claims within a specified time period; claims filed after the deadline are barred. Known or “reasonably ascertainable” creditors must be given actual notice of the commencement of probate proceedings for the above-mentioned time limitation to apply. Tulsa Prof. Collection Servs. v. Pope, 485 U.S. 478, 490 (1988). Unknown creditors must be given an opportunity to hear of the probate proceedings from some other means, usually through publication in a newspaper.

In most state, devisees and heirs are actually the last interested parties to receive assets from the estate. Administrative fees to attorneys and personal representatives, taxes, funeral expenses, and payments to valid creditors all have payment priority, and only the remaining assets are distributed to the heirs/devisees.


Image by: Valerie Everett