My father died intestate. He is half owner of a small property in New York state. There are three adult children and I have been named administrator. We have a lawyer assisting us. The amount of debt is almost equal to the amount we expect to receive for the sale of the house. There are no other assets. One of the siblings does not want to pay the creditors stating that the money from the house sale should be divided between the siblings. The lawyer (and I) say that creditors have to be paid first. Who is right and what would happen if we refused to pay credtors and divided the money between siblings?
4 Answers from Attorneys
You, as the Administrator, would be personally responsible to pay the creditors.
If the house was held solely in your father's name and not as joint tenants, then your attorney is correct. You do not want to mess up with this, as the administrator, you may be personally liable. If you have a competent probate/administration attorney, I would defer to his advice.
Is the debt on the property or part of your father's estate (his personal debt)? If on the property, like a mortgage, the estate would only be responsibe for 1/2 of it. Actually either way, the debt has to be paid off before the assets are distributed.
The debt must be paid, just like previous attorneys explained above. I would suggest hire an attorney to settle the debt.