Nobody wants to deal with the facts of their own mortality, but given what can happen to your loved ones if you pass away with unpaid debts, it might be something you want to arrange for well in advance. Otherwise, your estate may be up for grabs for any creditors you may still owe. Your estate, no matter how much it may be floundering or flourishing, is all of the assets you leave behind when you pass on. Your estate includes all of your possessions, properties, real estate claims, financial accounts, and more.

The process of using your estate to pay your creditors, and then distributing the rest of your estate to your heirs, is called probate. Each state has its own time frame for how long creditors have to make a claim against the estate; in Georgia, it is three months. This is actually quite helpful as, after three months, creditors cannot attempt to make claims on the estate. In some states, creditors have up to several years. This may be a good time to consider giving your local elder law attorney in Peachtree a call!

The last thing you want your spouse, family, or loved ones otherwise in charge of executing your estate to have to deal with is creditors trying to get their share. A grieving family dealing with the impact of the loss of a loved one does not need to also deal with creditors. Even worse, at times, if your estate doesn’t cover the debts you owe, creditors may be able to go after your spouse or next of kin for their repayment.

Fortunately, this usually isn’t the case. There are some exceptions, however. Any loans or other assets that you have cosigned with another person will generally fall onto the other person’s shoulders for repayment if your estate cannot cover it. Debts that could not have been avoided that accrued during a marriage, such as medical bills or a mortgage, also fall to the responsibility of your spouse if you pass away.

Sometimes, however, your local attorney in Peachtree can write an official letter requesting that the debt be discharged due to the circumstances, and if your spouse presents that letter along with your death certificate, the debt will often be forgiven in some cases. Most of the time, cosigned debts do fall to the surviving party to be paid, though it is certainly worth trying. Your local elder law attorney can assist you further with any and all concerns in regards to this.

Additionally, there are some places that you may consider keeping some finances that actually can’t be touched by creditors. Life insurance policies and retirement accounts, such as 401k or Roth IRA accounts, as well as certain types of trusts, pass directly to the beneficiary. These items cannot be part of the probate. Your local elder law attorney in Peachtree can inform you further on other items that cannot be part of the probate process.

It’s always a good idea to consult with an elder law attorney in terms of what can and cannot be subject to probate. This way you can ensure that your family jewelry, heirlooms, collectibles, or anything else you want to keep in the family and safely pass along to your heirs will be protected. Again, we know that talking about this kind of subject matter can be difficult, but that is why your Peachtree local elder law attorney is here. We want to make sure you are empowered over your estate, and that whatever you would like to have happen to your possessions will happen in accordance with your wishes. Contact us today!