There is an order of priority as far as what you have to pay in what order in an insolvent estate. Depending on what the credit card bills are for, they may be the lowest priority and you may not even have to pay them if there's no money left after the higher priority stuff is paid. For example, higher priority is given to administrative costs, the family exemption (if he was not married at the time of his death and you lived with him in that jointly-owned home, please look into this -- it could mean that you come away with something), funeral expenses (you may get some reimbursement), medical bills from last 6 months, etc.
I have pasted a copy of the statute just so you have an idea what's going on. I still don't necessarily expect you to be able to do this all on your own without legal advice even after reading this, because estate administration is not easy. But I want you to know that there is an order to how you are expected to take care of his affairs, and that your possible family exemption and reimbursement for estate/funeral expenses come before other, non-medical types of debts. Between reimbursement for the funeral expenses, admin expenses., and funeral, and the family exemption, you may end up with a fair amount of the assets.
Also, as one of the other attorneys said, there are notices and documents that have to be prepared, sent to the proper people, and or filed with the court, and you could get in trouble with the court if they're not done properly and on time. My county (Chester) gives out a packet with the forms and instructions; not sure if Dauphin does.
Here's a copy of the statute -- it's from Title 20:
§ 3392. Classification and order of payment.
If the applicable assets of the estate are insufficient to pay all proper charges and claims in full, the personal representative, subject to any preference given by law to claims due the United States, shall pay them in the following order, without priority as between claims of the same class:
(1) The costs of administration.
(2) The family exemption.
(3) The costs of the decedent's funeral and burial, and the costs of medicines furnished to him within six months of his death, of medical or nursing services performed for him within that time, of hospital services including maintenance provided him within that time, of services provided under the medical assistance program provided within that time and of services performed for him by any of his employees within that time.
(4) The cost of a gravemarker.
(5) Rents for the occupancy of the decedent's residence for six months immediately prior to his death.
(5.1) Claims by the Commonwealth and the political subdivisions of the Commonwealth.
(6) All other claims.
(Feb. 21, 2006, P.L.45, No.17, eff. imd.)
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Hello ... my condolences ...
As Administrator of your Dad's estate, you have to pay creditors from the assets before you distribute anything to anyone. The transfer of the cars to you is a distribution, which puts you on the hook as far as the creditors go.
I would consult an experienced attorney. Yeah, I know - I hate using that answer also, but in good times it is often the best answer and in bad times it is often the only answer.
Good luck ...
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You do not have to pay for estate expenses out of pocket, but you do have to pay creditors claims before distributing any assets to yourself. Therefore, as my colleague pointed out, it was not proper to transfer title to the vehicles to yourself personally, as they should be sold to pay for debts. In terms of the credit card bills, you should try to negotiate these down, explaining that your father is deceased and the estate is insolvent. They usually work with you under these circumstances.
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While I also agree with the prior two answers, you need to also make sure you advertise the issuance of letters (opening of the estate) to put a time limit on creditors coming forth indefinitely. Advertising the estate will give creditors one year to make claims. You don't know for sure if there were other creditors as well as the ones you know of. You need to put a limit on their time to sue.