In Florida’s formal administration, the personal representative is the individual appointed by the court to administer and execute the decedent’s estate. One of the responsibilities of the personal representative is to settle outstanding creditors’ claims and taxes using the assets subject to probate.
In this article, you will discover what you should consider about the reimbursement of estate-related expenses in Florida probate.
Personal Representative Reimbursement Florida – Understanding the Process
When the court designates a person to serve as a personal representative, he or she must immediately follow a set of procedures to execute the decedent’s estate with full legal compliance.
The first step is to notify any parties with an interest in the estate subject to probate, including the decedent’s creditors. If the decedent died with unpaid debts, the defaulted creditors have the right to claim the owed amount from the decedent’s estate.
Florida Statutes §733.702 specifies the statute of limitations for creditors to lay claims against an estate subject to probate.
Once the creditors have presented their claims against the decedent’s estate within the statutory period, the personal representative must pay the valid claims to the extent of the decedent’s assets and funds subject to the decedent’s debts.
Personal Representative Reimbursement Florida – As Provided by Law
Florida Statutes §733.710 (1) provides that “notwithstanding any other provision of the code, 2 years after the death of a person (…) the personal representative, if any, nor the beneficiaries shall be liable for any claim or cause of action against the decedent.”
Before using the decedent’s assets to pay a claim, the personal representative must assess the order of preference for payment, the intent of the parties, and other elements to determine whether it is a valid payment.
Florida Statutes §733.707 specifies that “the personal representative shall pay the expenses of the administration and obligations of the decedent’s estate in the following order:
- Costs, expenses of administration, and compensation of personal representatives and their attorneys fees and attorneys fees awarded under s. 733.106(3)
- Reasonable funeral, interment, and grave marker expenses, whether paid by a guardian, the personal representative, or any other person, not to exceed the aggregate of $6,000
- Debts and taxes with preference under federal law, claims pursuant to ss. 409.9101 and 414.28, and claims in favor of the state for unpaid court costs, fees, or fines
- Reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness of the decedent, including compensation of persons attending the decedent
- Family allowance
- Arrearage from court-ordered child support
- Debts acquired after death by the continuation of the decedent’s business, in accordance with s. 733.612(22), but only to the extent of the assets of that business
- All other claims, including those founded on judgments or decrees rendered against the decedent during the decedent’s lifetime, and any excess over the sums allowed by law (…)”
Florida Statutes §733.707 (2) adds that “after paying any preceding class, if the estate is insufficient to pay all of the next succeeding class, the creditors of the latter class shall be paid ratably in proportion to their respective claims.”
While the order of preference of payment is clear, some situations may result in disputes between the personal representative and a creditor (or beneficiary) as to the amount owed for reimbursement or payment of such expense.
In such cases, consult with an expert probate attorney to identify the elements involved in your case and find an adequate solution.