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Can your creditors file claims against your estate when you die?

Owing money is stressful, as creditors can be aggressive in their attempt to force someone to repay a debt. Even if you avoid debt now, you could accumulate major debts as you age, especially if you will live on a fixed income after retirement.

Planning for the repayment of your debts after you die may seem silly. After all, you might assume that if you don’t have a co-borrower, the amount you owe when you die won’t be anyone else’s problem. However, creditors in Oklahoma can potentially bring a claim against your estate, forcing the executor that you named to sell off your property or empty your bank account just to pay your debt.

Your executor has to notify and pay all known creditors Every creditor with a valid claim to repayment from you as an individual can potentially make a financial claim against your estate. The executor will need to send notice to individual creditors that they know about and publish a general notice in the newspaper so that unknown creditors can also make a claim against your estate in probate court.

Until every creditor has received repayment in full, your executor cannot distribute property from your estate to your loved ones or the nonprofits you intended to support. If they try to distribute your property without paying your debts first, they could be held personally responsible for any amount that they distribute.

How do you protect your legacy from creditor claims? The idea that a lifetime of savings would go to pay a credit card balance or medical bills may frustrate you. The good news is that you can plan ahead to avoid those losses. Careful estate planning will minimize your debt obligations in probate and protect your most valuable property from creditor claims.

You might add a trust to your estate plan to protect the assets used to fund it from creditor claims. You might also make strategic gifts now to those you love. A careful review of your personal finances and legacy wishes will be an important step in estate planning if you want to prevent debts from reducing what you leave behind for others. Learning more about what issues you need to address when planning your estate will protect you in your golden years and your loved ones after you die.

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