How Long Do You Have to File a Claim Against the Estate of a Deceased Person?
One of the hallmarks of a successful estate plan is that it allows nearly all of the assets you own now to pass on to your beneficiaries after you are gone. Until you have dealt with the details of probate, it is easy to assume that you have covered all your bases just by writing a will. If you simply allocate your assets to various family members, friends, or charities in your will and call it a day, you are leaving open the possibility that the value of your estate will diminish greatly by the time your estate settles and each beneficiary gets their share. A truly successful estate plan involves making some of your assets non-probate, such as by setting up a trust or designating a transfer on death or payable on death beneficiary for eligible accounts. It also involves paying your debts while you are alive and claiming the annual gift tax exclusion by giving cash gifts to family members who need them. The reason probate takes several months at minimum is because it is the time when the estate must pay the deceased person’s remaining obligations; creditors and others who wish to claim money from the estate have a chance to do so. The best way to avoid this is to deal with those anticipated claims while you are alive and well; a Hillsborough County estate planning lawyer can help you do this.
Public Notices During Probate
One of the responsibilities of the personal representative of the estate is to publish an announcement in the classifieds section of the local newspaper, notifying the readership that the estate has been opened for probate and inviting creditors and other interested persons to make claims on the estate. The category of “interested persons” includes anyone who believes that the decedent meant to leave money to them or should have done so. Today, these announcements often appear in the online edition of the newspaper, as well. Sometimes estranged family members who feel that thy have been unfairly disinherited make claims on the estate in response to the public notice. The probate court decides on a case-by-case basis whether the estate must pay the claim.
The time limit for filing a claim on the estate is three months, counting from the day the notice appears in the newspaper. In 2019, a new amendment specified that the day the clock starts running is the day that the notice appears; if the notice appears on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, then the clock starts running on the first non-holiday weekday that the notice appeared. For example, if the notice appeared on the Saturday before Martin Luther King Day, then the clock will start running on the Tuesday, three days later. Therefore, it is not 90 days or 90 business days; it is calendar months. For example, if the clock starts running on January 19, the last day to make a claim is April 19.
Contact an Attorney for Help
Consulting a Tampa estate planning lawyer now can help your family avoid legal battles during probate. Contact David Toback for help.