No. I am not admitted to practice in Tennesee, but as far as I am aware the Executor is merely a representative and the person charged with collecting a decedent's assets and paying valid debts to the extent that there are assets available. You do not become personally liable for the decedent's debts solely because you are executor. However, under Federal law you can become personally liable for the decedent's tax debts if you distribute assets of the estate without first being sure that all of the decedent's taxes have been paid. In Ohio, an executor can become personally liable for a decedent's debts if the executor takes assets of the estate that would have been used to pay the debts. There is also a procedure available to have an estate declared insolvent when there are more debts than assets. Under that procedure, the court approves the classification of debts and, as long as the executor pays them in the order prescribed by the court, he is not liable for the lower class debts that remain unpaid. If you are nominated as executor under a decedent's will, you should be represented by experienced probate counsel. Your attorney will be able to guide you through the process of identifying and classifying the decedent's debts in the proper manner.
This response contemplates only the laws of Ohio and is not intended to apply to other jurisdictions. None of the information in this response should be used or relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion about specific matters, facts, situations or issues. Viewing it does not establish an attorney-client relationship between you and Sherrille D. Akin, the law firm of Isaac, Brant, Ledman & Teetor LLP, or any of its individual attorneys
Ms Akin gives sound advice. The executor is a mere fiduciary and is not personally liable for decedent's debts. But watch for transferee liability. If assets were distributed when there was debt then the transferees (beneficiaries) could have liability.
Hope this helps.
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Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is [email protected] , his website for more tax, estate and business articles is www.sjfpc.com. and his blog is
LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is [email protected] , his website is www.sjfpc.com. and his blog is <http://frommtaxes.wordpress.com/> Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.
I agree that the prior answers are very good and are right in line with Tennessee probate law. I highly recommend getting a good probate attorney in your area to advise you based on the specific facts in your estate. The attorney can help the executor stay in compliance with the Federal and State laws as well as the local rules. By handling things correctly, the Executor should not have to worry about personal liablity. That is one of the primary functions of the attorney representing the Executor (and therefor the Estate). There are other doctrines that can come in to play as it relates to surving spouses and medical debts as well. All the more reason to get counsel.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER-An attorney can only give you competent legal advice if he or she knows all the facts and is licensed to practice law in the state specific to your question. The comments above are not intended to be legal advice but general comments based on the limited information provided in the question. I am only licensed to practice in the State of Tennessee.
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