Suppose you were especially close to a particular family member – so much so that when that person was in need, you sprang into action. Perhaps it was an elderly family member who suddenly needed intensive care and services around the home. You found yourself spending hours every day cleaning the family member’s house, cooking meals, and assisting with medication. Or perhaps a family member fell on hard times and you loaned them money with an unspoken understanding that, once they got back on their feet, they would pay you back what you had loaned. Now that the person has passed, you find yourself wondering: “Am I entitled to receive any compensation for the work I did or the money I lent?”
Filing Claims Against a Decedent’s Estate
Because the decedent is no longer alive, they are not able to personally pay the debts or obligations that they owe. Instead, those who believe a person died owing them money or compensation are generally eligible to file a claim against that decedent’s estate. If allowed or approved, the claim will be paid alongside other claims as part of the administration of the decedent’s estate. Absent some other out-of-court arrangements, this is the only means whereby a person may recover compensation or repayment for debts of a decedent.
Reasons Why a Claim May Be Denied
Simply filing a claim with the probate court having jurisdiction over the decedent’s estate does not guarantee that the claim will be paid. In fact, there may be a number of reasons why a claim may not be paid:
- A claim was not timely filed with the court. Claims must generally be filed within six months after the decedent’s death. Claims filed after this six-month period are generally disallowed. While estate administrators and executors have a responsibility for notifying the creditors of a decedent of the decedent’s passing when the creditors are ascertainable, creditors should not wait for such notification but should instead file a claim as soon as possible after learning of the person’s passing.
- A claim was not filed with the correct court. The claim is to be filed in the court having jurisdiction over the decedent’s estate. This may be the probate court in the county where the decedent died or where the bulk of their assets are located. A creditor who files a claim in the wrong court will not be able to recover anything.
- A claim was not sufficiently supported with evidence. Creditors’ claims can be challenged and denied if there is not enough evidence showing that the decedent owed the creditor any money. Loans from family members with nothing more than an oral promise to pay and family members seeking compensation for services they provided during the decedent’s later years can be very difficult to prove, as they often have very little documentation attesting to the existence of the debt.
- The decedent’s estate has few assets. Finally, if the decedent did not leave much behind, there may not be any assets available to pay creditors’ claims after accounting for administration expenses and exemptions. Unless the debt owed by the decedent was also owed by a co-debtor, there may be little recourse for creditors in this situation.
Seek Legal Help with a Claim Against an Ohio Estate
If you believe you may have a claim for compensation against a decedent’s estate for goods or services rendered during the person’s lifetime, do not wait to take action. Call Dawes Legal, LLC at (614) 733-9999 and set up an appointment with us. We can advise you whether you do have a claim and, if so, how to file and pursue your claim.