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.
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.
Read More: How to File a Claim Against the Estate of a Deceased
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.
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.
An attorney for more than 18 years, Jennifer Williams has served the Florida Judiciary as supervising attorney for research and drafting, and as appointed special master. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Jacksonville University, law degree from NSU's Shepard-Broad Law Center and certificates in environmental law and Native American rights from Tulsa University Law.