Can someone sue a deceased person’s estate?

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Can someone sue a deceased person’s estate?

My parents died in the mobile home they rented. They were not found for a week or more and therefore the bodies decomposed and have left the mobile home quite damaged due to the odor. They did not commit suicide, they died of natural causes. Their landlords did not have

full coverage insurance on their mobile home and are now trying to sue my parents’ estate to cover their loss. The estate is small, only about $20,000 in assets. And it is certainly not my fault that the landlords did not insure their rental property. Do they have a chance to win this suit against my parents’ estate?

Asked on August 4, 2016 under Estate Planning, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the can sue the estate, at least so long as they file the suit before the estate is probated and ceases to exist as a separate legal entity. A deceased person's estate is liable for his or her debts, which can include debts arising due to damage done by those persons. That does not mean the landlord will succeed: he would have to show that your parents were at fault (e.g. negligent, or unreasonably careless) in some way in causing the damage, and that is not likely the case in this situation (they were  not likely negligent in passing away); however, the fact that they may not be able to win does not mean they can't sue, and there is a chance they could win (I've seen judges and courts do odd things and find liability when you would not think there was any fault or liability). It's not an issue of whether the landlord did or should have insured the property; when a person damages property, they or their estate can be liable for it even then it would have been far wiser for the property owner to have had insurance.


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