Dearborn Heights, MI asked in Civil Litigation for Michigan

Q: How can insurane company file claim aganist deceased person and two living persons it said acounts receviable

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1 Lawyer Answer
Hillard Fried
Hillard Fried
  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Our legal system is based on English common law. Back in merry old England, a person’s claims and even most of his obligations were extinguished at death.The common law approach made some sense, in that the dearly departed do, in fact, lack the capacity to own, manage or handle anything. On the other hand, the rule conferred an undeserved windfall on the decedent’s heirs—that being erasure of their benefactor's liability.

In its pursuit of a more perfect form of justice, the Michigan Legislature enacted the the Michigan Probate Code. Under those statutes, a person’s claims and obligations survive death. A deceased person, however, lacks the capacity to bring or defend legal claims. Accordingly, our statutes create a mechanism to bridge that gap.

That mechanism is called a probate court decedent’s estate. Under that procedure, the Decedent’s claims and obligations may be processed through the court system. Upon opening such an estate, the law requires that a substitute be appointed in the decedent’s stead. That individual is called a “personal representative”. To the extent that the decedent died leaving assets and property, creditors may seek to recover their losses.

After the decedent’s passing, if there is no probate court action established, creditors may open such an estate on the decedent’s behalf and proceed to sue the estate.

A court case filed against a deceased person must be dismissed, however, on grounds of lack of capacity—if no such estate was opened.

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