Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
Good morning. I am Loren, a Florida licensed attorney, and I look forward to assisting you.
Does the value of his estate exceed $75,000 (the savings and stock, perhaps)?
Were you on the AMEX account as an account holder or authorized user?
Thank you for the additional information.
First, Florida is not a community property state you are not personally liable for your husband's debt. So, AMEX can only satisfy the open balance from your late husband's individual assets.
There is no law that says you must put the estate through some form of probate and if the estate is not solvent then there may not be a reason to do so.
However, if there are assets in his name, there is an "informal" means of probating his estate.“Summary Administration” is generally available only if the value of the estate subject to probate in Florida (less property which is exempt from the claims of creditors; for example, homestead real property in many circumstances) is not more than $75,000, and if the decedent’s debts are paid, or the creditors do not object. Those who receive the estate assets in a summary administration generally remain liable for claims against the decedent for two years after the date of death.
If you go this route then you will need to address AMEX and other creditors.
You may want to seek local counsel to help you with this. The Florida Bar maintains an excellent online referral program: https://www.floridabar.org/divpgm/lronline.nsf/wreferral6?OpenForm
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