Q: my dad's estate which is his house has gone into probate. waiting the 4 months to make sure no creditors. If we sell
the house before and put money away but a creditor comes back for more $ than the house sold is the estate liable?
A: I am sorry for your loss. If the creditor received proper notice under 18-C M.R.S. § 3-801(1), Notice to creditors, and failed to present its claim within 4 months after the date of the first publication of the notice, then this statute provides that creditor’s claim is forever barred. Your question doesn’t say when the creditor “comes back,” i.e. during or after the expiration of the 4-month period, which makes a significant difference. Also, as a general rule, the estate is liable for the debts of the decedent, not individual family members (unless, for example, a family member was named on the account or guaranteed the obligation). Creditor claims are settled using estate assets. If there are insufficient assets in the estate to settle all the creditor claims, then they remain unpaid. If there are no assets remaining in the estate to pay off creditor claims, then creditors should be so informed.
Generally, the Personal Representative should wait until the 9-month-after-death creditor claims filing period expires before fully distributing and terminating the estate, unless he or she is very certain that all debts of the decedent and other claims have been paid. Importantly, a MaineCare estate recovery claim is not limited to being filed within the normal 9 months, so it is essential to examine whether a MaineCare estate recovery claim may exist before distributing the decedent’s estate assets.
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