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Filing a Probate Claim on a Debtor's Estate

Posted on in Creditor's Rights

Filing a Probate Claim on a Debtor's EstateThe debt that someone owes you does not disappear when he or she dies. Instead, you can turn your collection efforts towards the deceased debtor’s estate. Creditors have a deadline to file a claim against a debtor’s estate and collect compensation from the estate before the debtor’s beneficiaries inherit the assets. You may lose your ability to collect your debt if you miss the deadline. You must know who you may contact about the debts, who can be liable for the remaining debts, and how quickly you will need to file a probate claim.


The representative of the debtor’s estate handles all contact with creditors about claims on the estate. Once you know who the representative is, you are not allowed to contact the debtor’s family members. In many cases, the representative will notify you of your debtor’s passing and your right to file a probate claim against the estate. The representative could also send you a letter to cease contact because there are no assets in debtor’s estate to repay you. After receiving this letter, you are not allowed to contact the representative unless you are filing a lawsuit to dispute the claim of no assets.

Liable Parties

In most situations, personal debt does not transfer to another person when the debtor dies. However, there are exceptions that make family members liable for the debts, including:

  • If someone cosigned on the debtor’s loan;
  • If the debt is from a joint credit card account;
  • If state laws require spouses to repay debts; or
  • If the beneficiaries divided assets from the estate without a formal probate process.

A spouse of a debtor who lived in a community property state may be required to repay the deceased spouse’s debts. Community property states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.


How soon a creditor must file a probate claim depends on how it received notice of its right to file a claim:

  • The default statute of limitations for filing a probate claim is two years;
  • Creditors have three months to file a claim after receiving a mail notice from the estate representative; and
  • Unknown creditors have six months to file a claim after a notice is published in a newspaper for the county where the estate is being administered.

Creditor’s Probate Claim

You should act quickly following a debtor’s death to make sure you are repaid out of your debtor’s estate. A Chicago creditor’s rights attorney at Walinski & Associates, P.C., can help you file a probate claim. Schedule a consultation by calling 312-704-0771.


Illinois Creditors Bar Association Chicago Bar Association Illinois State Bar Association
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