Notify creditors, known and unknown

While familiarizing yourself with the deceased’s estate, you will likely find outstanding creditors (organizations that the deceased owes money to). It can be as simple as a bill due for cable television or as complex as a mortgage or personal loan. As part of your executor duties, you should notify all known creditors of the death. Keep in mind that in the administration of the estate, you might create additional creditors such as the funeral home or florist. The estate is responsible for these bills and they also should be kept organized.

Generally at the direction of the probate court and with the assistance of the estate’s attorney, the executor is required to publish notice of the death in appropriate newspapers to run for a specified length of time. This notice is typically filed in the local newspaper. The purpose of this notice is to allow creditors, both known and unknown, time to make a claim to the estate for the remainder of the debt owed.

If the correct steps are followed by the executor in providing this notice, any debts not brought to the notice of the estate after a certain period of time will not be charged to the estate.  In other words, the estate will not be responsible for paying them. Remember that you might be required to wait to pay these debts until the court instructs you to do so. You also should keep an eye out for claims that you believe are improper or incorrect. If you see such claims, you should discuss them with the estate’s attorney and possibly even bring them to the attention of the probate court.