What is the deadline period allowed for probation of a Will and settling an Estate?.

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What is the deadline period allowed for probation of a Will and settling an Estate?.

My sister-in-law, formerly of Washington, DC, died 03/02 at a nursing home in MD. She was under guardianship of a court appointed lawyer at the time, which ceased upon her death. Her brother (my husband) engaged the services of the same lawyer for the purpose of settling the estate. From 2002-2005 we initiated several calls to the lawyer, in an attempt to have the Will probated and all estate matters finalized –  but to no avail. After 6 years of no communication, I received a call from the lawyer requesting another copy of the Will and my husband’s death certificate (he died in 07/08). As Alternate personal representative, am I responsible for debt?

Asked on March 21, 2011 under Estate Planning, District of Columbia

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the incredible amount of time that it has taken to finally get this matter moving and to give you some closure.  When someone passes away the debt that they owe at the time of their death is the responsibility of their estate.  You as the alternative personal representative - and I am assuming that your husband was the original personal representative possibly? - is responsible for making sure that all debts are paid prior to the distribution of any assets to the beneficiaries.  A bond is generally posted in behalf of the personal representative to cover any breach of fiduciary duty, etc. that may occur.  But personally, no, you are not liable unless you in fact breached the duty.  Good luck.


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