Q: What is my responsibility as administrator of estate to track down bills owed?
My motther left no will and verbally told me I was beneficiary to life insurance. She has passed and come to find out the life insurance beneficiary is "to the estate of." Now we are going through probate. Im and the only child and heir. Her husband/my father passed before her. I have been getting her forward mail and I see Dr. bills. What is my legal obligation to track down hospital bills and other balances she may owe?
A: It is not your obligation to track down bills. It is your obligation to run the Notice to Debtors and Creditors in the legal organ of your mother's county. It is your obligation to honor bills you receive through the mail that are your mother's bills. You can negotiate the bills to usually around 50-70% of the face value of the bills. You should check the hospital lien book in the county clerk's office. If the creditor does not file a Claim, there is no lien of record and you do not receive a bill in the mail, you have no obligation to look further.
A: One thing the personal representative must do is file a notice to creditors. "The [personal representative] must publish a notice to creditors within 60 days of the date the [personal representative takes office. This notice to creditors must run for four consecutive weeks in the official newspaper in the county where the estate's Probate court is located. This notice is traditionally coupled with a notice to debtors owing money to the estate and is often called a 'notice to debtors and creditors.'" From A Handbook to Guide Personal Representatives by the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges. Because a creditor's failure to file a demand does not extinguish the debt, you should make reasonable efforts to ascertain claims of creditors in addition to filing the notice to creditors. You should seek the advice of a probate attorney if you have questions regarding the administration of your mother's estate.
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