How to Write a Letter Requesting the Payment of a Deceased's Debt

By Jennifer Williams

If someone died owing you money, you may request payment by writing a letter to the personal representative of the deceased's estate. Generally, each state has a statute listing all the information such a letter must include in order for it to constitute a valid creditor's claim. You must send the creditor claim letter to the personal representative within a certain time frame. If the letter includes all the information required by statute and is mailed before the deadline, you take your place in the line with the rest of the estate's creditors to be paid from the estate's available funds.

Step 1

Write the letter to the estate's personal representative. Check the statutes for the state where the probate is taking place for the information required in a creditor's claim. Generally, a proper creditor's claim must include enough information for the personal representative to identify the creditor and verify the claim, such as the name and contact information of the creditor, a description of the debt, the date in which the debt was incurred and the amount of the debt.

Step 2

Mail the letter to the personal representative of the estate within the time frame required by statute. In Washington State for example, upon appointment by the probate court, a personal representative may choose to publish notice of the probate for several consecutive weeks in a major newspaper, or notify creditors individually. A creditor must mail a claim letter within four months from the date of first publication, or if notice was not published, within 24 months from the date the decedent died. Florida also allows creditors to submit claims within two years after the date of death, a deadline that is reduced to 90 days when notice is published.

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Step 3

Send the claim letter to the heirs of the estate if the estate is located in a state that allows for distribution of small estates by affidavit. Small estates are those where the estate's assets, including real property, do not exceed a certain dollar amount. In Washington State, for example, small estates are under $100,000. In Washington, small estate assets transfer to the heirs without probate when an affidavit is filed with the court stating that the estate qualifies as a small estate, that the estate is solvent and that the decedent's debts are either paid or the heirs have made provision for payment.

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Estate Laws for Insolvent Estates in Georgia
 

References

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How to File a Claim Against the Estate of a Deceased

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.

What is the New Jersey Statute of Limitations for Claims Against a Decedent's Estate?

Under New Jersey law, creditors have only a limited number of months to make a claim against an estate. If a claim is made past the deadline, the estate is not responsible to pay the debt. For debtors who die without a will, the laws of intestacy impose a similar time limit for creditors to make a claim. Certain estate planning tools may be useful to avoid creditor claims and executors may negotiate or contest claims against the estate.

What Does It Mean to File a Suit on an Estate?

People often leave behind property to distribute, taxes to pay and debts to settle when they die. These unresolved issues are known collectively as the deceased's estate. Various creditors may come forward to claim repayment of debts from the estate, and the personal representative is responsible to pay those debts. But if he refuses a creditor's claim, the creditor may then file suit against the estate, meaning that he asks a court to compel repayment.

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