What Happens if a Creditor Does Not File a Claim Against the Estate? Do I Need to Worry About Paying My Deceased Parent’s Final Bills Several Years After They Die?

I was speaking with a husband and wife couple from Hendersonville, Tennessee, and they had a very common question regarding the estate of their deceased parent. You see this couple, the husband, his father passed away about a year ago and they had gone through the estate settlement process with the probate court and it was almost finished and wrapped up. However, he was worried if he had accidently forgotten any final bills. His concern was whether these creditors could come after him later, and if so, whether he would be stuck with these bills.

I explained to this couple that this is a very common question that I get from many of my clients who have concerns about settling the estate of a loved one. I explained that when you open an estate with the probate court there are several steps that you must go through to have that estate completely settled and the remaining assets distributed to the surviving family members after all costs of administration and attorney’s fees have been paid. One of these steps is to put all creditors and potential creditors on notice that the person has died. Once a creditor has notice that the person has died, the creditor has four months in which to file a claim against the estate. If that creditor does not file a claim, then their claim is forever barred.

However, in response to this conversation, this husband and wife couple asked a very good question. They asked, “what if we accidently forgot to give a creditor notice or what if there are debts that we do not know about?” I explained that this was a very good question. However, regardless of whether you provided the creditor notice or not, or whether you even know about the creditor’s potential claim, will not be a defense that the creditor can raise at a later date if they sought to enforce their claim after the four month period has expired.

This couple was relieved that they did not really need to worry about a creditor of the estate attempting to come after them at a later date.

If you have questions about estate planning in Tennessee, establishing a revocable living trust or an irrevocable Medicaid trust, avoiding nursing home poverty and Medicaid planning, probate, or any other estate planning topics, then I encourage you to attend one of our free live educational events scheduled this month. At these events, you will hear a lot of real life stories about families that paid thousands of dollars in unnecessary expenses, families that were able to avoid unnecessary expenses, and families that were able to protect their assets from unnecessary nursing home costs and expenses.

I look forward to speaking with you at one of our upcoming live educational events!

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