The creditors of a Decedent are entitled to notice that the Decedent has died and that an estate administration proceeding is pending. Specifically, the Personal Representative is required by law to serve a Notice to Creditors directly upon all known or readily ascertainable creditors of the Decedent. In addition, the Personal Representative must publish the Notice to Creditors in a local newspaper once a week for two consecutive weeks. The purpose of this notice is to give the creditors of the Decedent a fair opportunity to file a claim against the Estate.
Under Florida law, creditor claims must be filed against the Estate 3 months after the time of the first publication of the Notice to Creditors in the local newspaper, or 30 days after the creditor receives direct service of the Notice to Creditors, whichever occurs later. All claims not filed within this limitations period are forever barred. The Florida Probate Code also imposes a restriction on all claims against the Estate that are filed more than two years after the Decedent’s death.
Once the period for filing claims has expired, the Personal Representative may file objections to any pending creditor claims. If such an objection is filed in the probate proceeding, a creditor must initiate an independent action against the Estate by filing a complaint within 30 days of the date the objection was filed. If an independent action is not initiated within this time frame, the claim may be barred by an order of the probate court.
All creditor claims pending at the close of administration of the Estate will be paid in an order of priority imposed by the Florida Probate Code. After satisfying claims of a preceding class, if the estate is insufficient to satisfy all of the claims of a junior class, the creditors comprising the junior class will be paid ratably in proportion to their respective claims. The Personal Representative will not be personally liable to creditors for any claims against the Estate, and such claims will only be satisfied to the extent that there are sufficient assets in the estate.