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Will a creditor take all my loved one has left during probate?

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2023 | Probate |

Losing a loved one is an emotional experience, and the legalities of dealing with their estate can make it even more challenging. If you are facing the probate process in Florida, you might have concerns about creditors making claims on the estate. These fears often stem from questions about what creditors can take and how much of the estate they might claim.

In Florida, specific rules and procedures govern the probate process, including how creditors can make claims against an estate. It is helpful to understand what you may expect if creditors become involved in the probate of your loved one’s estate.

Creditors and the probate process

In Florida, creditors have a limited time to present claims against an estate. After the death of your loved one, creditors have three months to file their claims once the estate publishes the notice to creditors. The claim typically becomes unenforceable if a creditor does not file within this period.

What can creditors claim?

Creditors can make claims for outstanding debts your loved one owed at the time of death. This includes credit card debts, medical bills and personal loans. However, creditors cannot simply take everything. Florida law provides specific protections for certain assets.

Homestead protection

Florida law offers significant protection for homestead property. If the deceased’s primary residence qualifies as a homestead, it is usually exempt from claims by unsecured creditors. The homestead exemption protects 160 acres in an unincorporated county and 1/2 acre in a city. This means the home often remains with the family, regardless of other debts.

Exemptions for family

In addition to the homestead protection, Florida law also allows certain exemptions for the family. These exemptions may include personal property up to a specific value, and benefits like life insurance may also remain protected.

Priority of claims

Not all creditors have equal standing in the probate process. Some claims have priority over others. For example, funeral expenses and certain taxes come before unsecured debts like credit cards. This ranking can affect what creditors receive from the estate.

If you are navigating the Florida probate process, understanding these rules and protections can alleviate some concerns about creditors taking all that your loved one has left. With knowledge of the laws in place, you can move through the probate process with a better sense of what to expect and how to protect your family’s interests.