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Dealing With Probate Creditor Claims In Georgia

Waiting on the deadline for creditor claims against a Georgia estate is one of the things that makes probate take longer than people think it should.

Under Georgia law, creditor claims must be dealt with before an estate can be closed.

How Long Does a Creditor Have To File Claims Against an Estate In Georgia?

Three months.  Once a personal representative is appointed to manage the Georgia estate, the personal representative is allowed six months to ascertain the condition of the estate.

Within 60 days from the date of qualification of the personal representative, the Georgia personal representative must publish a notice directed generally to all of the creditors of the estate to come forward with their claims.

Creditors who fail to come forward and give notice of their creditor claims within three months from the date of publication of the personal representative’s last notice shall lose all rights to an equal participation with creditors of equal priority to whom distributions is made before notice of such claims is brought to the personal representative, and they may not hold the personal representative liable for a misappropriation of the funds.

If, however, there are assets in the hands of the personal representative sufficient to pay such debts and if no claims of greater priority are unpaid, the assets shall be thus appropriated notwithstanding failure to give notice.

See GA Code § 53-7-41.

In What Order Are Estate Debts Paid In Georgia?

Pursuant to GA Code § 53-7-40, estate debts are paid in the following order of preference:

  1. Year’s support for the family;
  2. Funeral expenses, whether or not the decedent leaves a surviving spouse, in an amount which corresponds with the circumstances of the decedent in life. If the estate is solvent, the personal representative is authorized to provide a suitable protection for the grave;
  3. Other necessary expenses of administration;
  4. Reasonable expenses of the decedent’s last illness;
  5. Unpaid taxes or other debts due the state or the United States;
  6. Judgments, secured interests, and other liens created during the lifetime of the decedent, to be paid according to their priority of lien. Secured interests and other liens on specific property shall be preferred only to the extent of such property; and
  7. All other claims.

Dealing with creditor claims is one of the most important responsibilities of a Georgia personal representative.  A Georgia probate lawyer can guide you through the process to make sure that you have done everything right with respect to creditor claims and are not exposed to liability.

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