A dead man owes me money

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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A dead man owes me money

A long-time customer of mine passed away before paying the balance on his bill. He paid a portion of his bill and picked up his repaired item with the promise to be back in a few days. He died suddenly the next day. I’ve sent two letter to his conservator and the attorney handling his estate but no response. What can I do? Shouldn’t the attorney respond to my letters? I have sent them two letters and the invoice.

Asked on October 13, 2016 under Estate Planning, Connecticut


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the attorney should, as a professional, respond. But since he hasn't, your only option is to file a lawsuit vs. the estate. This can be problematic in that you don't know the balance of debts due from the estate vs. assets reachable by creditors: it could be that the estate doesn't have the money to pay its debts (which also could explain why the lawyer is not responding: if the estate is insolvent, he may figure that there's not need to do anything).
For example, property securing a debt (like a house with a mortgage) effectively cannot be reached by creditors other than the mortgagee/lender; POD or TOD bank and brokerage accounts cannot be reached by creditors; leased property (like a leased vehicle) is creditor proof; etc. Generally, if the unpaid balance is fairly small, given the uncertainty of suing an estate, it's probably not worth the effort.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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