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How to File Creditor Claims Against an Estate

As a lender or creditor, you have several options at your disposal when a borrower fails to repay what they owe you for goods or services. Even if the person passes away, you can file a creditor’s claim with the probate court to ensure the will executor or estate administrator includes you in the distribution process.

To file the claim, you will use form DE-172. You can obtain this form at any Superior Court location in California, or you can download the form here. Be sure to read the instructions and complete the form carefully. You will need to include enough detail to allow the personal representative and court to understand what amount you are requesting.

In addition to filing your claim, you MUST send a copy of the claim to the personal representative of the estate—otherwise, your claim will be invalid. In some cases, the personal representative will require evidence of your claim. When you send your copy to the representative, you may want to include receipts or agreements you had with the decedent.

Some debts do not technically require official claims, but you will want to discuss your situation with an attorney before deciding not to file a claim.

When Do You Need to File the Claim?

The personal representative is legally obligated to locate you and notify you of the probate. Once you are notified, you will have 60 days to file your creditor’s claim with the court.

If you are NOT notified, you will have four months from the date the Letters are issued to file your claim.

What to Do if You Miss the Deadlines

If you miss the deadline to file a creditor’s claim, you might still be able to do so, but you will need to file a special petition before the court. You will likely need assistance from a lawyer, as well.

Adjusting Your Claim

If you need to revise or amend your claim, you may be able to do so in certain cases.

You may adjust the claim if:

  • You filed your original claim within the deadline;
  • You file your amendment or revision the same way you filed the original claim; and
  • You file your amendment or revision before one year after the Letters are issued OR before the court issues the order on final distribution.

What to Expect After Filing

Once you properly file your claim, the personal representative should file either an allowance or rejection of your claim with the court and send you a copy of that document. Sometimes, a personal representative will not respond to your claim in any way. If, after 30 days of filing your claim, you receive no notice of an allowance or rejection, you can assume that it has been rejected.

If your claim is rejected, you may choose to file a lawsuit. You will have three months from the date of the rejection to file (but no more than one year after the decedent’s death).

Keep in mind that your debt may not have priority over others. Taxes, the costs of the estate administration, and spousal/child support claims are just a few examples of debts that have the highest priority. For more information about your specific situation and what you can do to maximize your likelihood of securing repayment, consult with an experienced attorney.

Retain the Diligent Support of Our Law Firm

At the Law Offices of James C. Shields, our attorneys have nearly 20 years of experience assisting clients on every side of the probate process. We can help preserve your rights and ensure you take every requisite step when filing your claim. If you need to dispute a probate-related matter or file a lawsuit, you can trust us to provide dedicated representation from start to finish.

Schedule your free initial consultation by contacting us online or calling (310) 626-4404 today.