There seems to be a pattern developing lately where clients (and tire kickers) are apparently paying creditors out of pocket – that is – they are making say, credit card payments on behalf of the decedent before probate has even started!
I can’t be sure if they were coerced by a collections agent or if they just feel some “moral” obligation (because until the estate is open, there is certainly no legal obligation.)
Let’s boil it down shall we?
Why you should probably pay the bill before probate is open:
- You co-signed for the debt (personal loan, car note, mortgage)
- It’s secured debt and the collateral is the house, car or some other asset you don’t want foreclosed or repossessed.
- Electric bill to keep the lights on (so the fridge doesn’t shut off or the septic tank doesn’t back up before you probate the house.)
- The debt is very small and eliminating it now will speed you through probate.
- There is a gun firmly pressed against your temple.
Otherwise, don’t pay the bill!
You’ll have to deal with estate creditors once the probate has started anyway. Creditors’ claims can only be satisfied from non-exempt assets.
One last note: A claim cannot be filed in an estate if the probate has not yet started! << Read this again!
Bonus video is Dave Ramsey’s take on credit cards in general. Has nothing to do with estate debt, just some straight talk about credit card debt.