How to File a Claim Against the Estate of a Deceased

by Anna Assad

If a person dies while owing you money, you may file a claim against the deceased's estate in probate court. Filing a claim doesn't guarantee you'll get your money, but it does notify the court and estate representative of the debt. Once you file the claim, the court must consider the debt and whether the estate can afford to pay it. Since states have different deadlines for filing creditor's claims against an estate, you must file your claim as soon as possible to protect your rights.

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Step 1

Confirm what the deceased owed you when he died and locate proof of the debt, such as a bill.

Step 2

Find the probate court handling the probate proceedings. Probate is the legal process in which ownership of property is transferred from the estate to the beneficiaries and heirs. Before that occurs, however, debts are settled. The deceased's heirs may have filed in the court of the county where the deceased resided or where he owned real estate. Contact the potential probate courts by phone, give the clerk the deceased's name and ask if the estate is being probated to find the correct court. You may have to visit the court in person to ask about estate proceedings in some counties.

Step 3

Visit the probate court once you've located the correct one and bring proof of the debt with you. Ask the court clerk for the case number of the probate case and a creditor's claim form. You may also obtain a claim form from an online legal document service before you visit the court.

Step 4

Complete the claim form. Claim forms vary by county, but you usually need the deceased's name, address and death date, estate court case number, debt total and a description. For example, if you loaned the deceased money for personal reasons, a possible description for the debt is "personal loan." You'll also need to put your name and current address on the form.

Step 5

File the claim form in the probate court. Ask for a court-stamped copy for your records.