Westland Estate Administration Lawyers

When a person dies, heirs are left wondering what should happen to the debts of the deceased.

Frequent questions are:

  • Should I tell all the creditors that the debtor has died?
  • Do I have to pay the debt?
  • How will the debt be paid?

Answers to these questions depend on many factors. Creditors and other debt collectors will seek to obtain payments from survivors or from the estate of the deceased.

It is important to know that survivors are not required to use their own funds to pay the debt, unless the debt was a joint obligation (or sometimes if the survivor was an authorized user). If the debt was a joint obligation, then the joint account holder becomes liable for the entire debt. However, if the debt was in the name of the deceased only, the debt should not be paid immediately. Rather, the survivor should contact an attorney to discuss whether the debt must be paid and from what funds.

At Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C., we have helped our clients through numerous legal matters with responsiveness and professionalism since 1994. We are attentive to our clients' legal needs in probate, and we ensure that all legal responsibilities are met. The assistance of a knowledgeable and competent Michigan lawyer is invaluable in your time of loss. Our experienced Westland estate administration attorneys and our highly trained staff can help you through the administration process, including creditor issues, and ensure that your interests are protected.

Giving Notice to Creditors in Probate Estates

Typically, debts such as credit card debt will only be paid if an estate is opened, and only if there are sufficient funds in the estate to pay the debt. In the event a probate estate is opened, notice of death must be given by heirs to both known and unknown creditors. However, the required notice is more than a letter or phone call to the creditor.

Most people are not aware that failure to give notice can result in creditors having up to three years to collect on debts and the possibility that funds distributed to an heir from an estate must be paid to the creditor.

Further, it is important to understand that debts must be paid in a certain order of priority and failure to adhere to that priority may subject a personal representative to individual liability for the unpaid debts of the deceased.

Protecting Your Well-Being and Providing Peace of Mind

Dealing with creditors can be stressful, and without the help of a highly qualified attorney, you could be exposing yourself to unnecessary risks. Creditors will go to extreme lengths to collect on debts, but our counsel and guidance can relieve you of worry and ensure that you are not being taken advantage of by an overly aggressive debt collector.

In the event certain priority payments are made and the estate has sufficient funds, creditors may be paid for debts owed from the estate before heirs receive distributions. However, creditors have certain hoops they must jump through to obtain payment. If they do not do so, they are forever barred from receiving payment.

Executors of estates have a fiduciary duty to ensure that debts are paid before certain distributions are made. If you are the executor of an estate, it is worthwhile to consult with an estate administration attorney who is experienced with handling creditor claims. Even slight mistakes can be deemed a breach of fiduciary duty subjecting the Personal Representative to personal liability, which can be avoided with proper legal advice and guidance.

We work with our clients to obtain the best possible outcome.

Contact Our Westland and Livonia Creditor Claims Attorneys

Practical and cost-effective legal counsel is vital to proper and effective estate administration and dealing with creditors of your deceased loved ones. Contact the Westland office of Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C., to schedule a free initial consultation. We offer evening and weekend appointments based on the needs of our clients. We accept all major credit cards as payment for services.