Lakewood, CA asked in Estate Planning for Arizona

Q: Received collections letter for my deceased mother, after Notice to Creditors was published & claims deadline passed.

My mom was in the process of filing bankruptcy when she passed away 6 mo ago, but hadn't filed with court. I am successor trustee of her trust, but her attorney wouldn't release her file without a subpoena & retired within days of my contact with him. Without knowledge of who her creditors were (she didn't have current documents in her home), I published a Notice to Creditors in the newspaper. The 4 mo deadline has since passed. I just received a letter from a collection agency, addressed to my mother at my CA address (her mail has been fwd to me), with a settlement offer for an unpaid credit card debt. It does not appear they know she is deceased. Do you suggest I contact them by phone or writing to inform them of her passing? Do I need to disallow this claim even though the collections letter was addressed to my mother, not the trustee, and the deadline established by the Notice to Creditors has passed? What are the trust's obligations to the debt at this point?

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Andre L. Pennington
Andre L. Pennington
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Surprise, AZ
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: It's generally good that the 4-month window has closed; however, there is a requirement to send a notice to all known creditors, as well. Creditors could argue that they are entitled to a notice directly. It depends on what steps you took to locate any known creditors. Another factor is how much the estate is worth. An insolvent estate will likely lead to a different answer than a million dollar estate, for example. An experienced probate attorney can likely guide you to the best answer once he or she knows more of the pertinent facts. Good luck!

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.