Preparing to Probate an Estate? Get the Debts Organized

Jul 5, 2010

If someone close to you passes away, you need time to cope with the emotional stress. However, there are some practical decisions that you cannot ignore. These relate to the bills and other debts of the estate.

If you have been named Personal Representative then it is best to contact a good attorney to help you with the probate process and other legal formalities. However, here’s some basic information about organizing the debts of the estate as you prepare for the probate process.

One of the first things you’ll want to do before Probate begins is to make a list of liabilities of the person who has passed away. This list should include:

  • Mortgages
  • Lines of credit
  • Condominium fees
  • Property taxes
  • Federal and state income taxes
  • Car and boat loans
  • Personal loans, including student loans
  • Storage fees
  • Loans against life insurance policies
  • Loans against retirement accounts
  • Credit card bills
  • Utility bills
  • Cell phone bills

After you have made a list of all the liabilities then divide them into expenses that will continue during the probate process and expenses that can be paid off.

Debts that you can clear fully during the Probate process are known as final bills. Administrative expenses like mortgages, condominium fees, property taxes, utility bills and storage fees, will have to be paid even when the Probate process is continuing.

Final bills include personal loans, income taxes, loans against life insurance and retirement accounts, cell phone bills, and credit card bills.

The Personal Representative has to deal with all these bills and wait 6-8 weeks before having access to the decedent’s funds, and for many of these, await Court approval to pay –the beneficiaries do not have to pay any of them.

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