The probate process can last months or sometimes even more than a year depending on how many assets someone has and the claims against their estate. The representative of the estate has to fulfill certain tasks during probate, such as filing a tax return and repaying creditors.
Attention to detail during this process is necessary, as an executor can potentially be financially responsible for any unpaid debts if they distribute assets from the estate prematurely. The creditors could make a claim that forces them to take back property from beneficiaries or pay out of pocket if they cannot.
How long can creditors potentially bring a claim against the estate?
Creditors typically have up to two years to make a claim
Any debt that an individual had a legal responsibility to pay at the time of their death becomes the obligation of their estate when they die. Creditors generally have the right to bring a claim for up to two years after someone’s death. In fact, creditors can potentially compel the courts to initiate probate so that they can seek repayment.
That two years statute of limitations on the debts owed by deceased people isn’t absolute. There are steps that the executor can take to speed up the process. If they notify a specific creditor in writing about the debt, they then only have 30 days to make a claim. If the executor publishes notice to unknown creditors, any of those creditors have 90 days from the date of publication to take action.
Understanding the laws that apply to probate proceedings can help both the estate’s executor and beneficiaries navigate the process.