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How to File a Creditor’s Claim

Torrance Estate Planning Attorney – 888.910.6652

When someone passes away while owing you a certain amount of money for goods or services, you are technically a creditor, even if you are just a family member or friend that loaned the decedent some cash. As a creditor, you have the chance to file a creditor’s claim against the decedent’s estate in an attempt to collect the money you are owed. An administrator of a decedent’s estate is tasked with notifying all potential creditors of the person’s passing but often overlook or forget debts owed to individuals rather than companies or institutions. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you take the initiative and seek to file your own creditor’s claim.

At the Law Offices of James C. Shields, our Torrance estate planning lawyers can make it easy for you to file a creditor’s claim and pursue the money you are rightfully owed. With 20+ years of combined legal experience and an intentional focus on estate planning cases, we have the skills and knowledgeability needed to guide you through this process from start to finish without delay or complication. You should act quickly, as you might have only 30 to 60 days to file your claim before a strict statute of limitations invalidates it.

Contact our firm as soon as possible to learn more about your legal options.

Proving Your Claim to the Estate

People who file a creditor’s claim are usually challenged by the estate administrator to prove the existence of the debt. For individuals who are owed substantial amounts of money, this can be a difficult task, especially if good recordkeeping was not kept. If the administrator does not believe your claim to be valid, you may need to make your argument in court and attempt to win a judge’s approval.

Articles that our Torrance attorneys can use to validate your creditor’s claim include:

  • Receipts of transfers
  • Written agreements – with signatures
  • Testimonies of close family members of decedents
  • Evidence of a loan being removed from your finances

You should attempt to organize your claim as you would a lawsuit. The more thorough you are in preparation, the more likely a court will side with your argument. If you are not certain how to construct a claim or what evidential items will be useful, please do not hesitate to call our law firm at 888.910.6652.

Special Filings & Amendments

In many cases, a person with a valid creditor’s claim is not notified of the decedent’s passing within the statute of limitations. When this occurs, a California court judge may permit you to file your creditor’s claim outside the usual time limits. It is highly recommended by the Superior Court of California that you pursue late or “special filings” only with the help of an estate planning lawyer.

Some claims might need to be amended after they are filed. For example, you may want to amend your claim if another inspection of the decedent’s financial record shows he or she owes you or your company more than originally anticipated. In such cases, an attorney can also help you file an amendment.

You can generally amend a creditor’s claim if:

  • Your first claim did not violate the statute of limitations for filings.
  • You use the same court and filing process for the amendment filing.
  • The amendment is filed within one year of notification of the decedent’s passing, or before an order of final distribution is approved for the decedent’s estate.

Debt Priorities in Decedent Estate Cases

When you file a creditor’s claim, you may not have the first priority when it comes to distributing the estate to pay off debts. There are many forms of debts that will be paid first before the probate court looks to individual debts owed to friends, family members, or individual loan offices. Child support, spousal support, and tax debts owed to the United States Internal Revenue Services are nearly-almost guaranteed to be paid before any other debts. It is possible for a creditor to receive no money whatsoever from a decedent’s estate if the estate is not large enough to satisfy all outstanding debts.

Highly-Qualified Legal Representation at a Reasonable Cost

Our Torrance bankruptcy and estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of James C. Shields are committed providing our clients with top-notch legal services at competitive pricing. When you come to us for help with a creditor’s claim, you will be working directly with a team that wants to see you fairly repaid for an outstanding debt. Get a free case evaluation with our firm today to learn more about what you should do next.

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"The Law Offices of James C. Shields is located in Torrance and proudly serves clients all throughout the South Bay including:

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Law Offices of James C. Shields - Torrance Bankruptcy & Estate Planning Attorney
Located at 21707 Hawthorne Blvd, Suite 204
Torrance, CA 90503.
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Phone: (888) 910-6652
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