Debts must be paid before any distributions are made to beneficiaries.
Contact all creditors you are aware of as soon as possible and notify them of the debtor's death. Ask them what can be done for debts that are more than the estate can afford.
If there are not enough funds to pay creditors, New Jersey’s probate code dictates a priority for paying creditors.
Pursuant to 3B:22-2, if the applicable assets of the estate are insufficient to pay all claims in full, the personal representative shall make payment in the following order:
a. Reasonable funeral expenses;
b. Costs and expenses of administration;
c. Debts for the reasonable value of services rendered to the decedent by the Office of the Public Guardian for Elderly Adults;
d. Debts and taxes with preference under federal law or the laws of this State;
e. Reasonable medical and hospital expenses of the last illness of the decedent, including compensation of persons attending him;
f. Judgments entered against the decedent according to the priorities of their entries respectively;
g. All other claims.
No preference shall be given in the payment of any claim over any other claim of the same class, and a claim due and payable shall not be entitled to a preference over claims not due. The commencement of an action against the personal representative for the recovery of a debt or claim or the entry of a judgment thereon against the personal representative shall not entitle such debt or claim to preference over others of the same class.
Amended 1989, c.248, s.8; 2004, c.132, s.82; 2005, c.304, s.47.