My dad passed away. He had a living trust (which named me successor trustee), small estate, and the matter will not be probated. I understand that I have to notify any creditors that I am aware of. For the creditors that I am not aware of, I understand that I have to publish a notice to creditors in the local newspaper. A few questions:
1. Is there a form for the Notice to Creditors (with no probate)
2. If no form exists, what should the Notice say?
3. Do I have to quote any codes or sections?
4. What is the timeframe for the creditors to file a claim from the published Notice?
If you had opened probate, the governing Probate Code section is 9050 et seq. and there is a Notice of Administration to Creditors form (DE-157).
Trustees are not required to use the Code's creditor claims procedures. Failure to use the probate claims procedure forfiets the bar on creditor's claims in the probate code. Failure to use the probate claims procedure means that those receiving distributions from the trust will be liable for the amount they received from the trust in the payment of decedent's debts.
You need to determine if the trust requires you to pay your father's debts. It is your option, but not required, to write to the creditors, inform them that your father has died, give them the account number and inform them that you are the representative of his estate and trustee of his trust. You really should seek guidance from a probate or estate planning attorney regarding your duties and whether you should give notice as trustee.
The statute of limitation on claims by creditors is four years on written contracts. If you follow the probate code claims procedure, any creditor has one year to file a collection action.
If you are the recipient of your father's assets (outside the trust), you are personally liable for your father's debts to the extent of the net value of the property received (Probate Code Section 13109). Suits on causes of action against you as the distributee which survive your father's death must be commenced within one-year after your father's death.
I do not know what the amount of your father's debt is and what his assets are. I strongly recommend that you consult with a local probate or estate attorney to sort out what your next steps should be.
Nothing contained in the information on this web site is to be considered as the rendering of legal advice for specific cases and readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel. This web site is intended for educational purposes only. Michael R. Weinstein, is licensed to practice only before the courts of the State of California, and is admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Central District and the United States Cou rt of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit. No information contained herein is to be considered applicable to legal matters in domestic or foreign jurisdictions outside of the State of California.
Estate Planning Attorney
Mr. Weinstein has given his typical excellent answer. The cutting off of liability to creditors is an attractive part of the probate process with no 4 years of the Sword of Damocles hanging over your head. You need to either invest in a how to manual for probate or trust administration or at least talk with an attorney in Alameda County.
Use the AVVO.com web site to find an attorney in your area. In addition to that, contact your local bar association for referral to an attorney who specializes in this or talk to friends and neighbors to ask about an attorney they have used and liked. Often, but not always, the attorney will do an initial consultation free of charge. You will then be in a better position to determine what to do next. Best of luck to you!
If you liked this answer, click on the thumbs up! Thanks. Eliz. C. A. Johnson Post Office Box 8 Danville, California 94526-0008 Legal disclaimer: I do not practice law in any state but California. As such, any responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to a general understanding of law in California and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information.