If someone who owes you money dies, you may think you are unable to recover those funds. However, you can file a claim against the person’s estate in an effort to pay the debt. The process can be difficult, and it takes a skilled attorney to guide you through it. For decades, the estate litigation attorneys of Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC have guided creditors through the process of filing claims against an estate in Tennessee. We know what deadlines need to be hit and what proof is needed to support your claims. We will help you with the documents and, if necessary, represent you in probate court.
When to File Claims Against an Estate
Claims against an estate can occur at the beginning of probate. An individual may believe he/she is owed money from the estate. In an attempt to procure the funds, that creditor will file a written statement with the executor or administrator of the estate. It is the administrator’s duty to approve it (either in whole or in part) or deny the claim.
In Tennessee, there is a strict four-month period for filing a claim against an estate and a “Notice to Creditors” is published by the probate court clerk. The notice to creditors must be published for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper in the county where the probate action has been filed. For example, in Nashville, such notices are typically published in The Tennessean, Nashville Scene, or Nashville Ledger.
However, there are exceptions to this four-month time limit:
If the creditor receives an actual notice, such as the executor mailing a copy of the notice. If you receive a physical copy of the notice, then you need to file your claim with the probate court within 60 days of receipt.
The creditor had received the actual notice in less than 60 days or didn’t receive a notice. If this occurs, the creditor has one year from the decedent’s death to file a claim.
In these exceptions, if there is a dispute between the personal representative and the creditor as to either:
The personal representative was required to send a notice to the creditor; or,
Whether the personal representative properly sent the notice, the burden of proof is on the creditor to prove its position.
The creditor not knowing the death of the person occurred is not a valid counterargument in Tennessee court.
If Your Claim is Denied
If the claim is not approved, it’s important to know that the executor does not have the final say in the matter. The creditor can request a hearing in probate court to determine if he or she has a right to the estate. Remember, estate administrators have a duty to prioritize claims against the estate. That means expenses such as taxes, funeral costs, and operating expenses are usually paid first. If the remaining funds are insufficient in paying any other claims, creditors can receive a portion of the payment owed on a prorated basis and a liquidation of the estate’s assets will be ordered by the probate court to pay the claim.
How Our Nashville Estate Litigation Lawyers Can Help
Although filing a claim does not ensure you will receive your money back, it will make the estate and the court aware of the debt. But, it’s important to know what the deadlines are and what documents need to be filed to prove the validity of your claim. This is where our Nashville estate litigation lawyers can help. We will go over your claim to make sure it is valid and keep an eye on all deadlines to claim your money. If your claim is denied by the executor, we will fight for your rights in court in an effort to get you a favorable outcome.
If you believe that you have a claim against an estate in Middle Tennessee and need legal assistance, our estate lawyers are here to help. Contact Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC today to schedule an appointment.