How long does a creditor have to file a claim in
probate court after someone has passed away?
Oftentimes clients ask the question: how long does it take
for the estate to be completely administered? Although this is a very common question, the
answer is not always cut and dry. Every estate is different and depends on many
factors. One of the factors that can affect the timeframe of administering an
estate is how many, and what types of, creditor claims are filed in the estate.
Once a creditor claim is filed, the personal representative must properly
address the claim on behalf of the estate.
Florida Statute §733.701 states that every personal
representative must publish and serve a notice to creditors. This notice will
place any prospective creditor on notice that they have a specific time period
to file a claim against the estate. If the creditor fails to file a claim
within the time period, then it will be forever barred, meaning the creditor
will no longer be allowed to secure any funds from the estate. Knowing this,
the next question is, how long does a creditor have to file a claim? The
answer, again, it depends, because the time frame can vary from estate to estate.
According to Florida Statute §733.702, the creditor must
file its claim within 30 days of service of the notice to creditors or 3 months
following the first publication of the notice to creditors, whichever is later.
All “reasonably ascertainable” creditors must be served with a notice to
creditors: if a personal representative knows about, or should be able to
reasonably discover a creditor, then the personal representative must send it a
notice. Regardless, any and all claims must be filed within 2 years of someone
passing away. In Florida, there are various definitions of a “reasonably
Therefore, it is very important for all personal
representatives and their probate attorneys to have a clear understanding of
which creditors might be considered “reasonably ascertainable” for each estate
in its jurisdiction. Conflicts surrounding the “reasonably ascertainable”
creditors have gone as far as the Florida Supreme Court, where in October 2015,
it ruled: “claims of known or reasonably ascertainable creditors of an estate
who were not served with a copy of the notice to creditors are timely if filed
within two years of the decedent’s death.” If these creditors are not properly
served with a notice to creditors, then an estate may be dealing with creditor
issues throughout the entire administration of an estate and even following the
closing of an estate.
Consulting with an experienced probate attorney is vital for
understanding the full complexities of an estate’s administration. If you are
unsure about creditor claims or have any other questions concerning the
administration of an estate, call Bedy Law for a FREE consultation at (727)