Probate is a process many will have to go through at least once in their lifetime. Even if there is a last will and testament, the Florida probate court will still need to validate the document and execute the wishes of the person who has passed away. There are a few steps that one needs to take in order to complete the Florida probate process. One of those steps is to notify any and all creditors that a person might have had when they passed away. Did a person die and leave outstanding debts and unpaid bills? If so, the responsibility to pay those debts may fall to the estate.
What is a personal representative in the state of Florida?
A personal representative might be named in someone’s last will and testament. Most commonly, it is a family member or close friend. If a person dies without a Will and has not selected a personal representative, Florida probate law has a hierarchy of who has preference to be the personal representative. You can learn more about that by going HERE – Florida Statute 733.301. This person is in charge of administering the estate, which includes locating heirs/beneficiaries, paying off debts left behind, and distributing the corresponding assets.
What is a Notice to Creditors in a Florida probate?
A Notice to Creditors is a public announcement made in the local newspaper in the county where the person had passed away. This announcement is typically done by the executor or personal representative and is done for the purpose of alerting potential creditors that this person has passed away and a probate has been open to administer their estate. Typically, the creditors will have a certain amount of days to file a claim with the court.
How does a Notice to Creditors work?
According to Florida Statue 733.2121, “the notice shall contain the name of the decedent, the file number of the estate, the designation and address of the court in which the proceedings are pending, the name and address of the personal representative, the name and address of the personal representative’s attorney, and the date of first publication. The notice shall state that creditors must file claims against the estate with the court during the time periods set forth in s. 733.702, or be forever barred.” As you can see, this can be a little intimidating if this is your first time doing something like this, which is most likely the case.
This notice in the newspaper must be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in the local newspaper where the person had passed away, but if there is no local newspaper in that county then it must be a part of any newspaper in circulation within the county.
How long do the creditors have to make a claim in Florida probate?
According to Florida law, creditors, as well as those who would like to claim or have demands against the decedent’s estate, must file their claims with the Florida probate court within 3 months after the date of the first publication is released. If any claim or demand is made after 3 months of the initial publication, the claim or demand will not be legally valid. Additionally, creditors only have 2 years to file a claim after a person has died to present a statement of claim. If a potential creditor does not file their claim within 2 years, they are time-barred from making their claim. See Florida Statute 733.710.
What are the costs of submitting a Notice to Creditors?
Unfortunately, this is one of those questions that are not so easy to answer. Fees might range from $65.00 to $300.00. However, this all depends on the publication themselves, the city, county, and state where the person passed away in. We have seen smaller counties charge a little more to post a Notice to Creditors, but again it all depends. Our recommendation would be to contact your local probate attorney to not only ensure you have done the Notice to Creditors correctly, but to also guide you through the process of contacting the local newspaper.
Do I need an attorney to submit a Notice to Creditors in the State of Florida?
The technical answer is no, but the Notice to Creditors is only one step of the Florida probate process. Florida probate laws can become quite overwhelming even for a “simple” estate and much more complex if there are multiple heirs or beneficiaries involved. We highly recommend reaching out to a Florida probate attorney to ensure the probate process is handled smoothly and done correctly; including making sure the the Notice to Creditors is done properly.
However, you’re in luck. We know just the team to handle Florida probate for you. Truthfully, when hiring a probate attorney, the goal should be for you to not even know probate is going on. Stivers Law based in Miami FL has handled hundreds of probate cases, has very high customer service ratings, and many 5-star reviews from both clients and referral partners.
If you would like to speak with a member of our team to discuss how we can help you through the Florida probate process, please call us at 305-456-3255 or fill out the Contact Us page and we will contact you right away. And for those who would like to do more research – we have you covered! Download our free guide today titled: “A Love One Has Died – Now What?” to learn more about the Florida probate process.