Probate: Debates of Decedent and Claims Against the Estate
The Executor should gather all debts of the decedent such as the funeral bill, final medical bills, credit card accounts, mortgages and other debts. The Executor ascertains the nature and extent of any other claims against the estate, obtains proper verification for any claims, and rejects any improper claims.
The Executor is well advised not to allow any vehicles owned by the decedent to be driven. The liability associated with any accident could potentially become a claim against the estate. All other potential liabilities such as farming operations, business continuation, ongoing construction and similar matters should be discussed and analyzed with the attorney.
Estate debts should not be paid until after the notice to creditors has expired which is three (3) months after the publication of the notice in the newspaper. The North Carolina General Statues dictates the order in which debts should be paid, therefore, the Executor should consult with the attorney before paying any estate bills. Many times, the attorney will maintain funds of the estate in the firm's general trust account and will pay the estate bills through this account. This assures that the estate debts are paid in the proper order and at the same time allows the attorney to gather the information and documentation necessary for the final accounting with the Clerk of Court.
Next in our Probate series: Probate and Estate Planning: Income and Inheritance (or "Death") Taxes