payingfor relative's debt

by June
(New Jersey)

I am a relative of a deceased person and am in the process of applying for probate. Deceased person's bank requested me to pay deceased person's debt, which I did. The probate has not come through yet and I have not been named administrator/executor yet. There's no money in the estate's trust yet. Should I not have done that.

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Jul 12, 2012
payingfor relative's debt
by: DebtCollection

It appears that you " jumped the gun" because if I understand you correctly, you paid the deceased's debt out of your own funds. You had no obligation to do that. Relatives and friends of a deceased person are not obligated to pay his or her debts unless they cosigned for it or they took on the debt together as joint debt. Furthermore, all debts are paid during the probate process, not before.

Here is how things are supposed to work. Once probate begins, the executor or administrator of the deceased's estate, inventories all of his or her assets and notifies all of the deceased's creditors, among other things. The creditors are entitled to file claims with the probate court asking to get paid. Those that don't don't get paid. The executor or administrator is obligated to use the deceased's assets to pay as many valid claims as possible, which may require that some of the deceased's assets be sold. Also, every state has an order in which things must be paid. Typically, burial and funeral costs, outstanding medical expenses, probate fees, and any estate taxes that are owed must be paid first and then if there is any money left, the rest of the deceased's debts are paid. No assets can be distributed to the deceased's beneficiaries until the debts are dealt with.

If you are appointed executor/administrator of the deceased's estate, I advise you to schedule an appointment with a probate law attorney so you handle things properly going forward and to find out if you can possibly be reimbursed by the estate for the money you paid out. If you are not appointed, I recommend that you let whoever is know about the fact that you paid the debts to find out if you can get reimbursed.

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