The time period for creditors to file a statement of claim in a Florida probate case is important for both creditors and the beneficiaries of the decedent’s (person who passed away) estate. For creditors, it is is important to make sure that probate is started and the creditor’s statement of claim filed before the claim bar date. For beneficiaries, it is important to remember the claims bar date when starting a probate for a loved one. If the time of filing is past the claims bar date, then there is no need to notice creditors under Florida law.
Under section 733.710(1), Florida Statutes, “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.” Furthermore, section 733.710 states that the claims bar does not apply to creditors who have already filed a statement of claim in a probate case and does not apply to creditors holding a security interest in the decedent’s property, such as a mortgage, or lien on a car.
Section 733.710, Florida Statutes states that a creditor’s claim is barred if the creditor does not file a statement of claim in a decedent’s estate within 2 years after the death of the decedent. Therefore, after 2 years, all claims from creditors of the decedent are permanently barred. Unless the creditor falls under one of the exceptions in section 733.710, there is no way to assert the creditor’s claim, if it has not been properly filed in the probate court within 2 years after the decedent’s death.
The claims bar date is important for two reasons. First, it is extremely important for creditors of a decedent to petition for probate of a decedent’s estate within 2 years after the decedent’s death, if the creditor wants to be paid. This is a difficult decision to make, and a creditor contemplating this decision must talk to an attorney to come up with the best strategy moving forward. Sometimes it does not make sense for a creditor to wait for the decedent’s family and friends to petition for probate or the family of the decedent may be waiting 2 years before filing to make sure that all creditor claims are barred.
Second, it is important to remember the claims bar date for the heirs or beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate. Under section 735.201(2), Florida Statutes, a Florida probate estate that is opened more than 2 years after the decedent’s death qualifies for summary administration, even if the total assets of the estate are greater than $75,000.00. The 2 year claims bar date allows for this to happen. There may be no reason to have the extended procedure of a formal administration if creditors are barred from bringing claims against the estate. However, it is still possible to petition for formal administration instead of summary if it makes sense to do so.
If you are a creditor and believe that the decedent’s estate is possesses nonexempt assets to pay for your claim, you need to talk to a Florida probate attorney as soon as possible to make sure that your rights are enforced. This is especially true if no probate case for the decedent has been filed. An experienced Florida probate attorney will be able to advise you on the best way to protect your rights, while making sure that your claim is not barred.
If you are a beneficiary or heir, you should also talk to a Florida probate attorney soon after the decedent’s death. If the claims bar date has already passed, the probate estate will likely qualify for a faster and less costly summary administration.
The attorneys at Richert Quarles P.A. are experienced Florida probate attorneys. Our attorneys will be able to advise you on your rights in a probate administration or litigation, whether you are a beneficiary or a creditor of the estate. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
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