After a loved one dies in Pennsylvania, it is necessary for you as the surviving family members to address many important legal matters, such as handling any debts that the deceased has left behind. Part of the purpose of the probate process is to settle any outstanding debts. We at Huckabee, Weiler & Levengood know that it is difficult for you to face these practical matters in the midst of your grief. It may help if you understand how the probate process pertains to the settlement of your loved one's outstanding debts.
If your loved one leaves behind outstanding debts, such as credit card balances, the appointed administrator or representative of your loved one's estate will apply assets from the estate in order to settle the accounts. The probate process begins with a petition, that is, a request to open the estate. The administrator notifies known parties with a possible interest in the estate by sending a Notice of Administration. In order to inform interested parties who may be unknown to the representative, a local newspaper publishes a Notice of Creditors.
Interested parties may then file claims against the estate for payment out of the decedent's assets. Debt settlement occurs first before any distribution of assets takes place according to the decedent's will. However, your loved one's creditors have limits on the amount of time in which they must file a claim against the estate. If claims are not filed within the timeframe provided following notification of your loved one's death, the interested parties will not receive payment.
Following the settlement of your loved one's debts, the process of probating his or her will to ensure that it is valid can begin. More information regarding estate administration is available on our website.