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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.


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