A dead man owes me money

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.


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