Q: Maryland Statute of Limitations Regarding Debt Collection of a Deceased Individual
My mother passed away with about $13k in her account, but had a $100k debt with the state of Maryland for medical expenses. They sent me a bill for the money, but I explained that I had only inherited the $13k, and they then sent a letter saying it was dismissed without prejudice. Is there a statute of limitations that I should be concerned with? I'm not trying to be greedy, but there's a lot I can do with $13k while I'm waiting for them to decide whether or not they want it (getting a straight answer from them has been like pulling teeth).
A: Creditors of an estate have 6 months from the date of death at latest to file a claim with the Register of Wills raising their claim, or the right to assert a claim against the estate is lost. Further, assuming the $13,000 was actually in the estate and was not paid directly to a "transfer on death" beneficiary named on the account, the order of payment of estate assets starts with reimbursement of the funeral/burial expenses to the person who incurred that cost, payment of all administrative expenses of the estate (court costs, PR fees, lawyer fees, advertising fees, etc.), and then lawful claims of creditors timely filed. There would likely be nothing left of the $13K after funeral/burial costs in most cases. Once an estate closes, all claims are foreclosed of any kind or nature after 18 months, excepting fraud committed by the PR of the estate. A direct suit against an heir cannot be maintained, except on a theory that the distribution received was improper because it deprived the estate of assets to pay lawfully owing and timely claims filed against the estate. This seems like a stretch, and is rare. You have likely heard the last of this.
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