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How urgent is it to figure out what debts my deceased father has? His estate is insolvent.

Buffalo, NY |

I am the voluntary administrator of the "small estate". He has very little in the bank and his estate is worth around 2k, if that. He owned no real estate or a car. I know that he has creditors, we haven't begun trying to figure out exactly who & how much. I have received one letter to his estate from a collection company and a few others just asking for the regular payment.

How urgent is it for me to figure out who is owed what and start contacting people? I am afraid of being sued or being saddled with his debt. I have 3 small kids and I am having trouble finding time to manage this. My brother offered to help and come to town over Christmas. Is it ok to wait until then?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. You can give up the job as admistrator and give the job to a more eager person.

    Answers are provided for direction only; it is not a substitute for an office consultation.


  2. New York does not require the personal representative to search for or send notice to creditors. The law assumes that creditors exercising ordinary diligence will send regular bills to the deceased person and the personal representative will learn of claims through receipt of the decedent’s bills. A creditor who learns of the death of a debtor should send to the personal representative written notice of a claim, stating the amount sought and a recitation of facts upon which the claim is based. In New York there is no statute of limitations that applies to claims against a deceased person. Rather, the customary statute of limitations to enforce a claim will continue to apply, that is, the six-year statute of limitations for most contract claims. Once the personal representative receives the claim, the claim can either be paid or contested. In paying it, a release should be sent from the creditor acknowledging payment and releasing the estate of its liability. If the claim is contested, the estate must file an objection. The personal representative must act in the estate’s best interests, remembering that the cost of fighting a claim (i.e. court and attorney fees) must be weighed against the cost of paying outright.

    THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS POSTING IS FOR GENERAL INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. THE FURNISHING OF THIS INFORMATION DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. AN ATTORNEY CLIENT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES THE FURNISHING, REVIEW, AND SIGNING OF A RETAINER AGREEMENT.

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