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Dealing with Insolvent Estate
Old 07-17-2019, 10:01 AM   #1
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Dealing with Insolvent Estate

A person who named me executor and sole beneficiary of his will years ago recently passed away. When he became ill a few months back I learned the mortgage on his mobile home far exceeds all his assets. Iíve decided not to proceed as executor but I feel I should make the effort to shut off his utilities and notify his bank. His bills are all autopay from an account that depends on a deposit he will no longer receive. He has no blood relatives alive closer than 2nd cousins and has lived the past decade as a self imposed hermit. Iím not looking for legal advice but would like thoughts on if I should proceed with basic post death work. I know Iím not liable for his debts but it wonít stop creditors from trying.
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Old 07-17-2019, 10:06 AM   #2
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JMO but I'd steer clear of the whole mess.
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Old 07-17-2019, 10:11 AM   #3
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Maybe contact someone in the county or state governments, like a probate court or something - at least they should be able to tell you who to contact. I'm pretty sure the state/county level has ways of handling insolvent estates like this.

I'd assume that once you contact the bank, they would shut off auto-pay? I dunno, in some cases you would want them in place, like if there was a home to sell, you want the utilities kept on.

This will very likely be different for each state, so be careful with any advice you receive.

Not sure how creditors would get your name?

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Old 07-17-2019, 10:28 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ivinsfan View Post
JMO but I'd steer clear of the whole mess.
+1

I walked away from a similar mess. Twice. If there's nothing to go through probate to inherit, why bother? You have nothing to gain. Also, the bank won't freeze the accounts unless you have letters of authority from the probate court. Don't even bother contacting them. Utilities will be shut off naturally after they get tired of non-payment. Don't contact any creditors, don't open the mail, etc., etc. Walk away, keeping only your good memories of this person.
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Old 07-17-2019, 10:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ceciledian View Post
I’ve decided not to proceed as executor but I feel I should make the effort to shut off his utilities and notify his bank.
Yeah, don't do that...it's not your job and trying to shut off utilities may be illegal since you are NOT the estate's legal representative. Could you call and say, "hey, XXX has passed away, his utilities are still on" sure, but that would be about it. Nonetheless, I wouldn't do that, either.

The creditors won't come looking for you if you aren't the named legal representative.

DISCLAIMER: I am not offering you legal advice and you should not rely on this information as though it is legal advice...it is not.
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Old 07-17-2019, 10:35 AM   #6
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If you get involved, and there are things like back taxes, even if you did not receive anything from the estate the IRS will want you to prove that.
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Old 07-17-2019, 11:01 AM   #7
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Thanks for the responses, you brought up things I didnít consider that sway me toward ďdo nothingĒ.
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Old 07-17-2019, 11:04 AM   #8
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I googled the topic over lunch just to see what advice was out there.

Seems unclear whether you can just avoid being named executor, or if you have to petition the court to be removed. What does seem clear is that if you start doing any executor-like duties, probably like shutting off utilities or notifying the bank, you are probably now the executor. So either do nothing, or do it all, don't just do a little.

You may get hounded by creditors, but they won't come after you, just the estate. The one exception is if you mishandle the estate. You're supposed to give a deadline for claims, and then there is a legal order of what bills to pay. If you just pay off one creditor early to get them off your back, another creditor who gets stiffed can come after you since you mishandled the executor duties.

I'll let you google for more info or contact an attorney, but I wouldn't blunder in partway without knowing what you are getting yourself in for.
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Old 07-17-2019, 11:18 AM   #9
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Iíve done a lot of googling, which quickly convinced me not to take on the role. I also read you cannot be forced to formally accept. If you accept and decide to quit midway you do have to inform the probate court. I plan to contact the county probate court for their direction on what to do with the will.
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Old 07-17-2019, 11:21 AM   #10
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Do you actually have a copy of the will or has a will actually been produced anywhere?
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Old 07-17-2019, 11:36 AM   #11
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Do you actually have a copy of the will or has a will actually been produced anywhere?


Yes I have a copy with original signatures.
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Old 07-17-2019, 11:37 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by gwraigty View Post
+1

I walked away from a similar mess. Twice. If there's nothing to go through probate to inherit, why bother? You have nothing to gain. Also, the bank won't freeze the accounts unless you have letters of authority from the probate court. Don't even bother contacting them. Utilities will be shut off naturally after they get tired of non-payment. Don't contact any creditors, don't open the mail, etc., etc. Walk away, keeping only your good memories of this person.
I agree. As far as autopay, if there are no funds, the payees will contact the person. If he is deceased, there is nobody to talk to.
On a lighter note, after DW's aunt died, some creditors bugged her. One asked for an address, so DW gave them the address of the cemetery where she was buried.
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Old 07-17-2019, 12:04 PM   #13
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Nobody but you knows of the existence of a will. If you refuse to be the executor, just bow out. Creditors will eventually write off their debts and go about their day. There's probably a landlord in a mobile home park that will start the ball rolling--wanting the trailer off his lot or try to take possession of it to get his back lot rent.
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Old 07-17-2019, 12:05 PM   #14
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Did you agree to be the executor?
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Old 07-17-2019, 12:09 PM   #15
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If you don't present the Will then your court system will deal with his assets.
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Old 07-17-2019, 02:55 PM   #16
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Nobody but you knows of the existence of a will.
Maybe. Depending on the jurisdiction the will may have been recorded with the clerk of the court. That was the case with my mother's will, but this was optional and was done for the sake of convenience. It does make things easier/speedier when the will is to be administered and is the reason to do that. It also establishes that there is in fact a will if the claim is made that there isn't one.

So it may be worth a phone call to the court clerk in that jurisdiction to find out if it was recorded. And if it is recorded, and you are named as executor, to the best of my knowledge no one can force you to administer a will so the court may ask you to sign something declining to be the administrator. This just makes it clear that you are not handling the decedent's affairs.
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:07 PM   #17
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I would try to get hold of the attorney that wrote the will and ask about bowing out. Note, I wouldn't ask for "advice", I'd ask if they believe you have any responsibility to do anything at this point. Framing the question in the spirit of "I'm not here to get involved, but if I have an obligation, I need to know", right from the start seems the best way to approach them. Then, if they say you do have an obligation, ask how you can bow out.

If you can't get hold of them, I'd ask whoever wrote your will for advice. I wouldn't want to just wait to see what happens. You may be insulated from monetary responsibilities, but I'd want to nip the hassle factor in the bud asap.

I certainly wouldn't want to call a government agency or a creditor before I sought independent legal advice.
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:14 PM   #18
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I'm not a lawyer but my Ex died penniless and in debt without a will. (I know that the existence of a will is a complication in your case.) I consulted a lawyer because DS was the next of kin. I lived in KS, DS in IA, Ex in FL. The lawyer (based in KS) told me there was no reason to open estate proceedings and if a creditor contacted us we could tel them that THEY were free to open estate proceedings- but we never heard from anyone.
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Old 07-19-2019, 05:24 PM   #19
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In California, there is a county officer called the Public Administrator that deals with estates for which there is no representative. After all, they don't wind themselves up! Here's a sample site.

You could ask about this in other states at your county website, state or county Office for the Aging, or even a funeral home. There's got to be some procedure in place.

It's probably not the first time the mobile home park operator has had to deal with it, either.
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Old 07-21-2019, 08:52 PM   #20
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Please don't destroy the will.

Can you mail the will to the probate court with a note that John Doe died and that you do not accept the appointment as executor/personal representative? LegalZoom says you can't be forced to take on this role. https://info.legalzoom.com/can-execu...udge-4047.html
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