When dealing with the death of a loved one, trying to handle the various legal issues that your loved one has left behind, including the payment of debts, is challenging. The Florida probate administration lawyers of Kramer, Green, Zuckerman, Greene & Buchsbaum, P.A. can answer your questions and help calm your concerns. Furthermore, we can handle probate court proceedings on your behalf while you focus on your family’s needs during this difficult time.
Inheriting Your Deceased Spouse’s Debts
Under Florida law, you generally are not liable for your deceased spouse’s debts. However, there are some circumstances in which you might have to pay your deceased spouse’s debts:
You inherit property that is subject to a lien.
For instance, if you inherit property from your deceased spouse with a lien, such as a vehicle with a loan or real estate with a mortgage loan, you may lose the property if you do not honor the debt.
You owe a joint debt along with your spouse.
If you owe a joint debt with your spouse, such as a vehicle loan or a mortgage loan, and your spouse passes away, you are still responsible for paying that debt. Since you signed the contract to take out the loan or credit card account, you are liable to repay it.
However, you should understand the distinction between a joint account holder and an authorized user when it comes to credit card accounts. A joint account holder is liable for the credit card if the other account holder passes away. However, a person who is merely an authorized credit card user cannot be liable for the debt of the main cardholder if the account holder passes away, but is liaiblefor charges made by the survivor as an authorizer user.
You were responsible for the estate and violated the law.
As we will discuss in more detail in the next section below, if you are appointed as the personal representative of your deceased spouse’s estate, you must use estate assets to pay valid claims of creditors of the estate. If you fail to pay creditors with available estate assets, you could be held responsible for those debts and may have to use your assets to repay them.
Estate and Debt Payments
If your deceased spouse leaves an estate, Florida law does provide that debts owed by your spouse are to be paid out of the estate. Creditors can file claims against the estate, and under Florida Statutes §733.705, the personal representative must allow or object to claims based on their legal validity. The personal representative must use estate assets to pay off valid creditor claims. If the estate is insolvent or contains insufficient assets to pay off creditor debts, the creditors are out of luck. Exceptions apply for assets in the decedent’s revocable trust. The creditors cannot pursue the decedent’s spouse or other family members for the outstanding debts, and they will remain unpaid.
After the debts are paid, the remaining property in the estate is distributed to you and the other heirs, either according to the terms of your spouse’s will or the laws of intestate succession, which apply when an individual dies without a will.
Contact Kramer Green to Learn More About Probate Administration
The Florida probate administration attorneys of Kramer, Green, Zuckerman, Greene & Buchsbaum, P.A. are ready to help you and your family through every step of the probate administration process. We know how to handle these proceedings, including the satisfaction of any creditor claims.
Our objective is to handle the complex legal matters that an estate administration can involve on your behalf while you and your family focus on dealing with the loss of your loved one. Contact our office today at (954) 966-2112 or reach out to us online to schedule a time to discuss your legal estate issues with our attorneys.