Filing a Claim Against an Estate to Settle a Debt
If someone owes you or your business money, and that person dies, can you still get paid? In many cases, the answer is yes.
As a creditor, you can seek to collect the debt from the decedent’s estate by following a specific set of steps outlined by Maryland law. The guidelines require that you provide a detailed account of the debt owed and submit a claim form.
An attorney experienced in probate matters can help ensure this process goes smoothly.
Proving a Claim Against an Estate is Valid in Maryland
It’s the role of the personal representative charged with handling the estate to determine if a creditor’s claim is valid and needs to be paid. That person can ask for a variety of forms of proof, including:
- Other agreements or evidence supporting your claim
In a claim statement, you will also have to include, in writing, details set forth by Maryland Code, Estates and Trusts § 8-104. Failure to provide the necessary information can be grounds for the personal representative to disallow a claim.
The information that should be contained in your claim includes:
- Your name and address
- The content or basis of the claim
- The amount and due date of the claim
- Whether the claim is contingent (and if so, the nature)
- Whether the claim is secured (include a description if yes)
If a personal representative rejects your claim, it can result in litigation. Other options include negotiation to reach a settlement.
Depending on the circumstances, you may not have to file a claim. Instead, you can directly seek payment from the estate or an heir. This situation can present itself in insurance coverage claims.
Options for Seeking Compensation Through a Claim
Specifically, there are three ways to make a claim against an estate as a creditor:
1. Fill out and submit Maryland’s “claim against the estate of the decedent” form during the allotted time frame for presenting claims.
2. File the claim with the register, together with a copy served to the estate’s personal representative.
3. File a lawsuit.
In some situations, a personal representative may not yet be appointed when you seek payment from the estate. When this occurs, you can still file the claim with the appropriate county register. This will be the county where the decedent was domiciled at the time of their death, but other countries could apply. For example, you could also file where the decedent resided or had ownership or a leasehold on real property.
Why Some Claims Don’t Get Paid
Assuming there are funds in an estate, one would think that collecting funds on a balance owed should be straightforward. However, there are several situations in which you may have to put in additional effort to get the money you’re owed.
- Untimely filing: There is a statute of limitations for filing a claim. If you wait too long, the claim becomes invalid.
- Inflated claims: A personal representative will scrutinize how much you claim to be owed. If it seems exaggerated, it could be contested.
- False claims: It’s not unusual for “creditors” to come out of the woodwork, claiming they provided phantom goods or services. Make sure you have proof of what you provided and its worth.
Contact the Law Offices of Ralph W. Powers Jr., P.C
With over 35 years of experience in probate law, our team of attorneys represents creditors seeking to be paid what they’re owed, family members who have suspicions about the unscrupulous behavior of an executor, and personal representatives warding off invalid claims.
Contact the Law Offices of Ralph W. Powers Jr., P.C today to discuss your claim.