What Rights Do Creditors Have Against an Estate in South Carolina?
If you are owed money by someone who has passed away, you might need to file a claim in probate court in order to collect the debt. The South Carolina Probate Code outlines specific requirements which you must meet in order to collect the debt. Our South Carolina creditors’ rights attorneys at Crawford & von Keller, LLC are committed to advocating for creditors and advising our clients on their legal options for collecting unpaid debts. Contact us to discuss your options in a confidential initial consultation
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
First and foremost, you must be aware of the deadline to file a claim in probate court. In order to reclaim the money owed by an estate, you must file a claim within 60 days of receiving a Written Notice of Creditors, which the estate’s personal representative typically sends to creditors, or within eight months from the date that the notice is first published, whichever is later.
Furthermore, if you fail to file your claim within one year of the decedent’s death, you will forfeit your right to recover the debt that the estate owes you in probate court. See section § 62–3–803 of the South Carolina Probate Code for details.
How Do I File a Claim?
Given these strict deadlines, creditors with a claim against an estate should exercise their legal right to recover the debt by filing a Statement of Creditor’s Claim with the probate court as soon as possible after the decedent’s death. You must file this document in the county of the estate’s administration. You may also present a copy of this document to the estate representative if you wish.
On this form, you must provide pertinent details, including:
- Your (the creditor’s) contact information, including your name, phone number, email, and address
- The original creditor’s contact details, if applicable
- The amount of money owed
- The account number and any other reference numbers related to the debt
- An explanation of the basis for the claim, such as services performed for the decedent
- The claim’s due date
- The nature of the claim’s uncertainty, if any exists
- A description of the claim’s security, if any exists
The experienced attorneys with Crawford & von Keller, LLC can help efficiently prepare your claim for filing. In our experience, making this information available can expedite the process and ensure that you meet the state’s deadline.
In some circumstances, you will have the right to file claims against any individuals to whom the estate’s personal representative distributed property. Those individuals may be required to return some or all of the improperly distributed property they received or pay the value of the property no longer in their possession.
As a creditor, you have the right to file this type of claim up to three years after the debtor’s death or one year after the improper distribution of property was initially challenged. You also have the right to file a claim against the estate representative for improperly distributing property.
How Are Claims Resolved?
Personal representatives may take one of three actions to resolve claims against the estate:
- Pay – The estate’s personal representative may decide to pay the debt owed to the creditor. This is the best-case scenario for the creditor.
- Negotiate – In many circumstances, the estate’s personal representative may negotiate to see whether the two parties can agree on a reduced payment.
- Disallow – Finally, the personal representative has the right to serve a Notice of Disallowance, in which they decline to pay the debt. They may take this action for part of the debt or the full amount.
Creditors have 30 days from the date of a Notice of Disallowance to take legal action against the estate when the personal representative declines to pay the debt, either in part or in full. Personal representatives of the estate must resolve all claims before the estate can be closed, no later than 14 months after the decedent’s death.
Contact a South Carolina Creditors’ Rights Firm Today
If you are owed a debt by a decedent’s estate, you should take action as soon as possible to ensure your ability to recover the money owed to you. At Crawford & von Keller, LLC, our team of skilled and knowledgeable attorneys has over 70 years of combined experience protecting the rights of South Carolina creditors. We will work tirelessly to help you reclaim the debts owed to you by an estate. Contact us today for a consultation.