Who Pays the Bills?

On May 20, 2011, in Uncategorized, by Joseph Trojack

When someone dies, what happens to his or her bills?  What are the duties and responsibilities a Personal Representative has to the decedent’s creditors?

When someone dies, his or her obligations to creditors survive.  Creditors, such as utility companies, credit card companies, and telephone companies can enforce their claims against the estate.  A Personal Representative must notify creditors of the decedent’s death and give them an opportunity to satisfy the debts owed to them.  This is a legal duty of the Personal Representative.

In Minnesota, a Personal Representative must notify creditors by publication.  The Notice of Claims must include the Personal Representative’s name and address, and other information.  After the Notice of Claims is published, creditors have four months to file their claims with the court.

Notice by publication is simple and straightforward, but it is not the only notice that is required.  The Personal Representative is also required to give notice where:

1.    The Personal Representative knows about a claim that arose during the decedent’s life

2.   The decedent’s financial records known and available to the Personal Representative
clearly show that a claim arose during the decedent’s life

3.   A reasonably diligent search of the decedent’s financial record known and available to the
Personal Representative would have revealed the claim.

If, for example, the Personal Representative opens the Decedent’s mail and finds an energy bill that accrued during the decedent’s life, he or she should provide the energy company with a copy of the Notice of Claims.

Our office makes handling creditor’s claims easy and stress-free.  The Personal Representative simply sends us the bills and we prepare the checks for signing.  The Personal Representative signs the checks and we mail them to the creditors.

All the bills must be accounted for in the estate’s Final Account, which is filed with the probate court at the end of the probate.  Since all the bills are managed at our office, the Personal Representative is not scrambling to find every bill he or she has paid, which we have learned can end up being more COSTLY to the estate than keeping everything in good order from the beginning.  This makes closing the estate and filing the Final Account a hassle-free and efficient process. It saves money for the estate and time for the Personal Representative.

 

 

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