Claims against a Probate Estate in Illinois
After a loved one dies, their surviving friends and family are left to manage any debt that the deceased individual left behind. Once a probate estate is opened, it is the job of the representative of the estate to resolve any claims seeking a payment from the estate.
What is a “Claim”?
A “claim” against a probate may be filed by any person or company that is seeking payment from the estate. The person or company that files the claim is called the “claimant.” In a typical claim, the claimant is seeking payment from an estate for a debt that was owed by the deceased person. For example, credit card companies and medical providers may file a claim against an estate.
Claims must be in writing
Illinois law provides that all claims must be in writing. The written document must notify the administrator or executor of the estate as to the nature of the claim and the amount of money that the claimant is seeking. The claimant must also provide copies of documents supporting its claim for money. For example, a credit card company may provide a copy of the credit agreement and copies of credit card bills.
Options when receiving a claim
Upon receiving notice of the claim, the administrator or executor has several options. First, the administrator may disallow the claim. This is accomplished by notifying the alleged creditor that the estate is disallowing the claim and that the creditor must file its claim with the court. On the other hand, the administrator may allow the claim and simply pay the bill. If the matter is not resolved, the probate court will conduct a trial and determine the proper amount due. In general, administrators and executors resolve claims prior to a trial. A trial on the merits of a claim is generally more expensive to the estate than the claim itself.
Deadlines for filing a Claim
In general, all claims against a deceased person’s estate must be filed within two (2) years of the person’s death. This is true even if no probate estate is ever opened. Accordingly, any creditor of the person, including credit card companies, mortgage companies, and medical providers, must file a claim for unpaid bills before the two-year passes. If they do not, the claim will be barred.
An administrator or executor can shorten the two-year statute of limitations period for claims if a probate estate is opened. After opening, the probate estate, the administrator or executor may publish notice of the person’s death in the local newspaper. The notice in the newspaper serves as a notice to all creditors to file their claims as soon as possible. The time period for claims then becomes the date that is six months after the notice of death was published. For example, where the person died on June 30, 2016 and a probate estate was opened, and notice of the death was published on September 30, 3016, the deadline for all claims is on March 30, 2017.
As you can see, opening a probate estate has distinct advantages. An administrator may wish to open a probate estate to limit the time period for claims which may allow the estate to be distributed and closed earlier than would otherwise be possible if no estate were opened. When the time period for claims is limited, then the estate may be wrapped up before a period of two (2) years.
If you would like to discuss your rights and options in making a claim against a decedent’s estate or defending an estate against a potential creditor, you need to consult with a qualified estate litigation attorney. The experienced Chicago estate litigation lawyers at Hays Firm LLC have helped many individuals through the claims process in Illinois. Please feel free to contact us anytime to discuss how we can help.