Is a court appointed administrator of a small estate, liable to pay unknown creditors and/or credit cards?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is a court appointed administrator of a small estate, liable to pay unknown creditors and/or credit cards?

My mother died and left no Will. There’s only about $1,000 in her checking account and no other property or anything. She was in a nursing home and had nothing but what was in her room. If I file to be appointed administrator so I have access to her account, can unknown unpaid creditors find me and make me liable? I have no knowledge of any unpaid debts. I would like to know if it’s worth the paperwork, filing fees and trouble beforehand.

Asked on June 4, 2017 under Estate Planning, Arkansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, an administrator of an estate (or, that matter, an executor or personal representative of an estate) is not personally liable for the deceased's or the estate's debts. Estate money (e.g.the $1,000 in the bank) has to be used for valid and properly asserted creditor claims or debts, but you do not have to pay out of pocket or with your own money. If any creditor tries to tell that you are personally liable for your mother's debts, they are mistaken or lying.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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