Creditor’s Claims Under Florida’s Probate Statute
733.701 Notifying creditors.
733.702 Limitations on presentation of claims.
733.703 Form and manner of presenting claim.
733.704 Amendment of claims.
733.705 Payment of and objection to claims.
733.706 Executions and levies.
733.707 Order of payment of expenses and obligations.
733.710 Limitations on claims against estates.
733.701 Notifying creditors.—Unless creditors’ claims are otherwise barred by s. 733.710, every personal representative shall cause notice to creditors to be published and served under s. 733.2121.
733.702 Limitations on presentation of claims.—
(1) If not barred by s. 733.710, no claim or demand against the decedent’s estate that arose before the death of the decedent, including claims of the state and any of its political subdivisions, even if the claims are unmatured, contingent, or unliquidated; no claim for funeral or burial expenses; no claim for personal property in the possession of the personal representative; and no claim for damages, including, but not limited to, an action founded on fraud or another wrongful act or omission of the decedent, is binding on the estate, on the personal representative, or on any beneficiary unless filed in the probate proceeding on or before the later of the date that is 3 months after the time of the first publication of the notice to creditors or, as to any creditor required to be served with a copy of the notice to creditors, 30 days after the date of service on the creditor, even though the personal representative has recognized the claim or demand by paying a part of it or interest on it or otherwise. The personal representative may settle in full any claim without the necessity of the claim being filed when the settlement has been approved by the interested persons.
(2) No cause of action, including, but not limited to, an action founded upon fraud or other wrongful act or omission, shall survive the death of the person against whom the claim may be made, whether or not an action is pending at the death of the person, unless a claim is filed within the time periods set forth in this part.
(3) Any claim not timely filed as provided in this section is barred even though no objection to the claim is filed unless the court extends the time in which the claim may be filed. An extension may be granted only upon grounds of fraud, estoppel, or insufficient notice of the claims period. No independent action or declaratory action may be brought upon a claim which was not timely filed unless an extension has been granted by the court. If the personal representative or any other interested person serves on the creditor a notice to file a petition for an extension, the creditor shall be limited to a period of 30 days from the date of service of the notice in which to file a petition for extension.
(4) Nothing in this section affects or prevents:
(a) A proceeding to enforce any mortgage, security interest, or other lien on property of the decedent.
(b) To the limits of casualty insurance protection only, any proceeding to establish liability that is protected by the casualty insurance.
(c) The filing of a cross-claim or counterclaim against the estate in an action instituted by the estate; however, no recovery on a cross-claim or counterclaim shall exceed the estate’s recovery in that action.
(5) Nothing in this section shall extend the limitations period set forth in s. 733.710.
733.703 Form and manner of presenting claim.—
(1) A creditor shall file a written statement of the claim. No additional charge may be imposed by a claimant who files a claim against the estate.
(2) Within the time allowed by s. 733.702, the personal representative may file a proof of claim of all claims he or she has paid or intends to pay. A claimant whose claim is listed in a personal representative’s proof of claim shall be deemed to have filed a statement of the claim listed. Except as provided otherwise in this part, the claim shall be treated as if the claimant had filed it.
733.704 Amendment of claims.—If a bona fide attempt to file a claim is made but the claim is defective as to form, the court may permit the amendment of the claim at any time.
733.705 Payment of and objection to claims.—
(1) The personal representative shall pay all claims within 1 year from the date of first publication of notice to creditors, provided that the time shall be extended with respect to claims in litigation, unmatured claims, and contingent claims for the period necessary to dispose of those claims pursuant to subsections (5), (6), (7), and (8). The court may extend the time for payment of any claim upon a showing of good cause. No personal representative shall be compelled to pay the debts of the decedent until after the expiration of 5 months from the first publication of notice to creditors. If any person brings an action against a personal representative within the 5 months on any claim to which the personal representative has not filed an objection, the plaintiff shall not receive any costs or attorneys’ fees, nor shall the judgment change the class of the claim for payment under this code.
(2) On or before the expiration of 4 months from the first publication of notice to creditors or within 30 days from the timely filing or amendment of a claim, whichever occurs later, a personal representative or other interested person may file a written objection to a claim. If an objection is filed, the person filing it shall serve a copy of the objection as provided by the Florida Probate Rules. The failure to serve a copy of the objection constitutes an abandonment of the objection. For good cause, the court may extend the time for filing or serving an objection to any claim. Objection to a claim constitutes an objection to an amendment of that claim unless the objection is withdrawn.
(3) If the objection is filed by a person other than the personal representative, the personal representative may apply to the court for an order relieving him or her from the obligation to defend the estate in an independent action or for the appointment of the objector as administrator ad litem to defend the action. Fees for the attorney for the administrator ad litem may be awarded as provided in s. 733.106(3). If costs or attorney’s fees are awarded from or against the estate, the probate court may charge or apportion that award as provided in s. 733.106(4).
(4) An objection by an interested person to a personal representative’s proof of claim shall state the particular item or items to which the interested person objects and shall be filed and served as provided in subsection (2). Issues of liability as between the estate and the personal representative individually for items listed in a personal representative’s proof of claim shall be determined in the estate administration, in a proceeding for accounting or surcharge, or in another appropriate proceeding, whether or not an objection has been filed. If an objection to an item listed as to be paid in a personal representative’s proof of claim is filed and served, and the personal representative has not paid the item, the other subsections of this section shall apply as if a claim for the item had been filed by the claimant; but if the personal representative has paid the claim after listing it as to be paid, issues of liability as between the estate and the personal representative individually shall be determined in the manner provided for an item listed as paid.
(5) The claimant is limited to a period of 30 days from the date of service of an objection within which to bring an independent action upon the claim, or a declaratory action to establish the validity and amount of an unmatured claim which is not yet due but which is certain to become due in the future, or a declaratory action to establish the validity of a contingent claim upon which no cause of action has accrued on the date of service of an objection and that may or may not become due in the future, unless an extension of this time is agreed to by the personal representative in writing before it expires. For good cause, the court may extend the time for filing an action or proceeding after objection is filed. No action or proceeding on the claim may be brought against the personal representative after the time limited above, and the claim is barred without court order. If an objection is filed to the claim of any creditor and the creditor brings an action to establish the claim, a judgment establishing the claim shall give it no priority over claims of the same class to which it belongs.
(6) A claimant may bring an independent action or declaratory action upon a claim which was not timely filed pursuant to s. 733.702(1) only if the claimant has been granted an extension of time to file the claim pursuant to s. 733.702(3).
(7) If an unmatured claim has not become due before the time for distribution of an estate, the personal representative may prepay the full amount of principal plus accrued interest due on the claim, without discount and without penalty, regardless of any prohibition against prepayment or provision for penalty in any instrument on which the claim is founded. If the claim is not prepaid, no order of discharge may be entered until the creditor and personal representative have filed an agreement disposing of the claim, or in the absence of an agreement until the court provides for payment by one of the following methods:
(a) Requiring the personal representative to reserve such assets as the court determines to be adequate to pay the claim when it becomes due; in fixing the amount to be reserved, the court may determine the value of any security or collateral to which the creditor may resort for payment of the claim and may direct the reservation, if necessary, of sufficient assets to pay the claim or to pay the difference between the value of any security or collateral and the amount necessary to pay the claim. If the estate is insolvent, the court may direct a proportionate amount to be reserved. The court shall direct that the amount reserved be retained by the personal representative until the time that the claim becomes due, and that so much of the reserved amount as is not used for payment be distributed according to law;
(b) Requiring that the claim be adequately secured by a mortgage, pledge, bond, trust, guaranty, or other security, as may be determined by the court, the security to remain in effect until the time the claim becomes due, and so much of the security or collateral as is not needed for payment be distributed according to law; or
(c) Making provisions for the disposition or satisfaction of the claim as are equitable, and in a manner so as not to delay unreasonably the closing of the estate.
(8) If no cause of action has accrued on a contingent claim before the time for distribution of an estate, no order of discharge may be entered until the creditor and the personal representative have filed an agreement disposing of the claim or, in the absence of an agreement, until:
(a) The court determines that the claim is adequately secured or that it has no value,
(b) Three months from the date on which a cause of action accrues upon the claim, provided that no action on the claim is then pending,
(c) Five years from the date of first publication of notice to creditors, or
(d) The court provides for payment of the claim upon the happening of the contingency by one of the methods described in paragraph (a), paragraph (b), or paragraph (c) of subsection (7),
whichever occurs first. No action or proceeding on the claim may be brought against the personal representative after the time limited above, and the claim is barred without court order. If an objection is filed to the claim of any creditor and the creditor brings an action to establish the claim, a judgment establishing the claim shall give it no priority over claims of the same class to which it belongs.
(9) Interest shall be paid by the personal representative on written obligations of the decedent providing for the payment of interest. On all other claims, interest shall be allowed and paid beginning 5 months from the first publication of the notice to creditors.
(10) The court may determine all issues concerning claims or matters not requiring trial by jury.
(11) An order for extension of time authorized under this section may be entered only in the estate administration proceeding.
733.706 Executions and levies.—Except upon approval by the court, no execution or other process shall issue on or be levied against property of the estate. An order approving execution or other process to be levied against property of the estate may be entered only in the estate administration proceeding. Claims on all judgments against a decedent shall be filed in the same manner as other claims against estates of decedents. This section shall not be construed to prevent the enforcement of mortgages, security interests, or liens encumbering specific property.
733.707 Order of payment of expenses and obligations.—
(1) The personal representative shall pay the expenses of the administration and obligations of the decedent’s estate in the following order:
(a) Class 1.—Costs, expenses of administration, and compensation of personal representatives and their attorneys fees and attorneys fees awarded under s. 733.106(3).
(b) Class 2.—Reasonable funeral, interment, and grave marker expenses, whether paid by a guardian, the personal representative, or any other person, not to exceed the aggregate of $6,000.
(c) Class 3.—Debts and taxes with preference under federal law, claims pursuant to ss. 409.9101 and 414.28, and claims in favor of the state for unpaid court costs, fees, or fines.
(d) Class 4.—Reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness of the decedent, including compensation of persons attending the decedent.
(e) Class 5.—Family allowance.
(f) Class 6.—Arrearage from court-ordered child support.
(g) Class 7.—Debts acquired after death by the continuation of the decedent’s business, in accordance with s. 733.612(22), but only to the extent of the assets of that business.
(h) Class 8.—All other claims, including those founded on judgments or decrees rendered against the decedent during the decedent’s lifetime, and any excess over the sums allowed in paragraphs (b) and (d).
(2) After paying any preceding class, if the estate is insufficient to pay all of the next succeeding class, the creditors of the latter class shall be paid ratably in proportion to their respective claims.
(3) Any portion of a trust with respect to which a decedent who is the grantor has at the decedent’s death a right of revocation, as defined in paragraph (e), either alone or in conjunction with any other person, is liable for the expenses of the administration and obligations of the decedent’s estate to the extent the decedent’s estate is insufficient to pay them as provided in ss. 733.607(2) and 736.05053.
(a) For purposes of this subsection, any trusts established as part of, and all payments from, either an employee annuity described in s. 403 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, an Individual Retirement Account, as described in s. 408 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, a Keogh (HR-10) Plan, or a retirement or other plan established by a corporation which is qualified under s. 401 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, shall not be considered a trust over which the decedent has a right of revocation.
(b) For purposes of this subsection, any trust described in s. 664 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, shall not be considered a trust over which the decedent has a right of revocation.
(c) This subsection shall not impair any rights an individual has under a qualified domestic relations order as that term is defined in s. 414(p) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.
(d) For purposes of this subsection, property held or received by a trust to the extent that the property would not have been subject to claims against the decedent’s estate if it had been paid directly to a trust created under the decedent’s will or other than to the decedent’s estate, or assets received from any trust other than a trust described in this subsection, shall not be deemed assets of the trust available to the decedent’s estate.
(e) For purposes of this subsection, a “right of revocation” is a power retained by the decedent, held in any capacity, to:
1. Amend or revoke the trust and revest the principal of the trust in the decedent; or
2. Withdraw or appoint the principal of the trust to or for the decedent’s benefit.
History.—s. 1, ch. 74-106; s. 86, ch. 75-220; s. 35, ch. 77-87; s. 7, ch. 85-79; s. 69, ch. 87-226; s. 20, ch. 93-208; s. 11, ch. 93-257; s. 10, ch. 95-401; s. 1018, ch. 97-102; s. 3, ch. 97-240; s. 150, ch. 2001-226; s. 2, ch. 2010-122; s. 17, ch. 2012-100.
Note.—Created from former s. 733.20.
733.708 Compromise.—When a proposal is made to compromise any claim, whether in suit or not, by or against the estate of a decedent or to compromise any question concerning the distribution of a decedent’s estate, the court may enter an order authorizing the compromise if satisfied that the compromise will be for the best interest of the interested persons. The order shall relieve the personal representative of liability or responsibility for the compromise. Claims against the estate may not be compromised until after the time for filing objections to claims has expired.
733.710 Limitations on claims against estates.—
(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of the code, 2 years after the death of a person, neither the decedent’s estate, the personal representative, if any, nor the beneficiaries shall be liable for any claim or cause of action against the decedent, whether or not letters of administration have been issued, except as provided in this section.
(2) This section shall not apply to a creditor who has filed a claim pursuant to s. 733.702 within 2 years after the person’s death, and whose claim has not been paid or otherwise disposed of pursuant to s. 733.705.
(3) This section shall not affect the lien of any duly recorded mortgage or security interest or the lien of any person in possession of personal property or the right to foreclose and enforce the mortgage or lien.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
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