Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
Under most state probate codes, if the personal representative (executor), files a claim against the estate, or has a conflict of interest of any kind (a close relative is the claimant), then the personal representative must disallow the claim and have the matter set for a hearing. Depending on what the claim is about, the court may appoint a special administrator to represent the estate. Such matters should be handled carefully, and with the advice of counsel in order to avoid future legal problems for the personal representative.
Let me back up here and ask who are the beneficiaries of the estate, beside yourself? Will the other beneficiaries consent in writing to the estate paying that $40 K debt? Are any of the other beneficiaries minors?