Regular readers of our Brevard County legal blog know that we often write about the court-supervised process that identifies, gathers and distributes assets after a person’s death. Florida probate does more than that, however.
Probate also ensures that the late person’s debts are paid off. That means that if you’re the estate executor or personal representative, you are required to give notice of probate proceedings to “known or reasonably ascertainable” creditors, the Florida Bar says.
Notice gives creditors three months in which to file any claims in probate. If you’re the personal representative (or a beneficiary or other interested person), you can file an objection to the claim, which then requires the creditor to file a lawsuit to pursue their claim.
It should be noted that legitimate debts (including valid claims, taxes, estate administration expenses, etc.) must be paid before the remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries.
As you can see, being the personal representative is not always an easy task to fulfill.
Other complications can arise, of course, including involvement of the Internal Revenue Service. As personal representative, you might have to file one or more of the following tax returns with the IRS:
- A final Form 1040 to report the decedent’s income in the year of his/her death
- Form 1041, a tax return for estates and trusts that discloses the estate’s income
- Form 709 reports gifts made by the decedent
- Form 706 is an estate tax document that reports the decedent’s gross estate
The complexity of probate administration can be overwhelming for someone not familiar with Florida probate law. A Cocoa law firm experienced in probate and trust administration can help you navigate the system, keep your commitments and fulfill your duty.