The rules for handling debts during estate administration

The individual serving as the personal representative of a North Carolina estate has a lot of responsibilities to fulfill. They need to communicate with the courts, manage estate resources and uphold someone’s last wishes. 

One of the most basic requirements of the probate process is the repayment of someone’s debts. Estate resources should help pay off creditors before beneficiaries receive anything from the estate. If the personal representative of the estate fails to take the right steps, they could be personally liable for the debts that the estate could have paid. 

What are the requirements for addressing debts during probate in this state? 

Creditors should receive notice

The personal representative of an estate typically has access to someone’s financial records. They can likely discern the identity of numerous creditors through a review of financial documents. The representative must send a direct written notice to each known creditor within 75 days of the courts acknowledging their role. That notice gives creditors an opportunity to submit a claim in probate court for repayment. 

There could also be unknown creditors, so the representative of the estate needs to publish information about someone’s passing and upcoming probate proceedings. North Carolina requires the publication of notice once a week for at least four weeks in a local paper. Creditors have three months from the date of publication to bring a claim in probate court. 

The representative of the estate must then pay valid debts in the proper order of priority before distributing assets to specific estate beneficiaries. Understanding the requirements during estate administration can reduce the risk taken on by the representative of a North Carolina estate.