My parent left an insolvent estate. The personal representative told the heirs that we needed to contribute money to the estate to keep up the bills until the house can sell and the estate settle. I know it is not our responsibility to pay the debts of the estate. If we contribute money in to the estate, won't this be money we will never get back? And by the way, there is money in stocks that could pay the short term bills but the representative is choosing not to liquidate them at this time. Even with the stock money, the estate is insolvent. Also, does the personal representative take % of money based on assets reguardless of liens like a mortgage or just the net asset?
There are reasons why people sometimes probate insolvent estates, but without knowing a lot more facts I can't tell you why this estate is being probated. The personal representative is entitled to a fee. A presumed reasonable fee under Florida Statute 733.617 is based on the value of assets regardless of liens. You do not need to contribute your own money to pay estate bills. I don't know why you would do that unless it means a return on your pay out. You may want to consult with your own attorney to determine if this is something you want to do.
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I recommend that you meet with a probate attorney. It is not uncommon for the heirs to have to contribute funds to the upkeep and maintenance of the homestead when that is the only asset, but here you mention there are other assets.
Estate Planning Attorney
If the home qualifies as homestead it is not an asset in the hands of the estate. While that means the homestead cannot be used to satisfy estate creditors, it also means that probate estate assets should not be used to maintain the home. The only real effect of the probate on a homestead is to determine its status as homestead and its distribution to a decedent's devisees. Now all of this assumes that the home is homestead.
As for the personal representative fee, the law in Florida provides for a reasonable fee of 3% of the compensable value of the estate. Liens and mortgages encumbering assets are not taken into consideration in determining the personal representative fee. That being said, if real property is homestead, the value of the homestead should not be added to the compensable value, whether mortgaged or not. The law provides for fees for extraordinary services, of which dealing with the homestead can be considered.
I highly recommend calling an attorney experienced in practicing probate. It is likely that he/she can answer most of your questions during a short consultation. I am confident that most of the attorneys you find on Avvo would be very willing to assist you in this regard.
The above post is not intended as specific legal advice and should only be used for general informational purposes. This answer does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Frank S. Leontitsis, Esq. The Lucas Law Firm, P.A. 17833 Murdock Circle, Suite B Port Charlotte, FL 33948 Phone: (941) 206-2120 Fax: (941) 206-2122 www.lucaslawfirm.org
Estate Planning Attorney
Creditors in an estate require special handling. There are different classes of creditors, and the Probate Code directs who get paid when there are not sufficient assets to pay everyone. Even in a solvent estate, special attention needs to be paid to how creditors are managed.
This most certainly requires the assistance of a qualified probate attorney.
The PR is entitled to a reasonable fee, which can be as much as the schedule set forth in the Probate Code. The fee is based on the gross value of the estate, before consideration of liens and creditors.