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What happens to debts during estate administration and probate

Georgia residents appointed as executors in the wills of their loved ones may be under the impression that their duty is just to distribute the assets of the estate. Unfortunately, that perception is incorrect. Many other duties are required of executors during estate administration and probate, including settling the decedent's debts.

The first thing that executors and family members need to know is that they are not personally responsible for the debts of their loved ones unless they co-signed or are jointly responsible for the balanced owed. It might help alleviate some trepidation regarding a decedent's loved ones to know this as quickly as possible. Unscrupulous creditors may attempt to convince these individuals of the opposite.

An individual might be responsible for a debt of the decedent if he or she benefited from the monies directly. For instance, if a loan paid for the individual's personal living expenses, he or she might be found responsible for the outstanding debt. Otherwise, the estate is responsible for paying the sole debts of the deceased. In many cases, the unsecured debts of the decedent go unpaid. However, other arrangements will more than likely need to be made for debts secured by property such as a mortgage loan. 

Executors will need to determine what will happen to a particular debt during the estate administration and probate process. The can be a complex and frustrating task at times. In the end, the goal is to have as much of the estate remaining as possible to distribute to the heirs identified in the last will and testament. Having a Georgia attorney to help make these types of determinations could be invaluable as the probate progresses.

Source: FindLaw, "Debts After Death", Accessed on May 7, 2017

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