You receive notification that a client has died with an outstanding debt to your business. Although the person is unable to pay it, you are still due the money. The debt does not go away after a person dies. So, how do you go about filing a claim?

Article 18 of the New York Surrogate’s Court Procedure outlines the process of filing a claim. To recoup your money, you must file a claim against the estate of the decedent. Check the records of the Surrogate’s Court regularly to confirm the appointment of a fiduciary to the decedent’s estate. At this point, you can begin the filing process.

Procedure to file a claim

You must make a claim in writing. A fiduciary, or trust, may require you to prove the amount of the claim by submitting an affidavit.

Deliver a copy of the claim to the trustee. You can also send it by certified mail return receipt. You cannot email, fax or send the claim by regular mail.

Once the fiduciary receives the claim, he or she has 90 days to accept or reject the debt. If rejecting the debt, the trustee must state the reasons.

Following up with a rejected claim

If you have not heard anything within 90 days or your claim is rejected, you can file an Order to Show Cause in Surrogate’s Court. The OSC is a petition describing the reasons for the debt. You then place the burden of proof on the trustee to show why the debt is not valid. You are essentially asking the court for help to get your money.

The process of collecting from an estate takes time. There are businesses or people who may get paid before you. The funeral home or those who performed the burial or cremation are first in line to get paid. Other debts including mortgages, student loans, unpaid taxes or judgments for credit cards are next.