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How do I Protect a California Probate Estate From Creditors?

Administrator (noun):

The Administrator of an Estate is a legal term. This term refers to someone appointed by a Court to administer the Estate of a deceased person with no Will.

Executor (noun):

Person named in a Will as the person who will make sure that the instructions in the Will are followed. They are responsible for executing the Will, and are either appointed by the court or by the deceased person. They are responsible for taking care of a deceased person’s financial obligations. Financial obligations include disposing of property and paying bills and taxes. The executor must also make certain that the deceased last wishes are carried out according to the Will.

The executor or administrator of a California probate estate has a duty to protect and preserve estate assets.  Part of this duty involves deny or approving claims in the creditors claim procedure.  This procedure requires creditors of the probate estate to submit a claim by filing it with the California probate court . Creditors are anyone who claims the decedent owed them money before they died. The failure to file a claim is a fatal defect if the creditor later files a lawsuit to recover its money.  When a claim is filed the executor or administrator must approve the claim, deny the claim, or approve it in part and deny it in part.  Of course, the claim should be shown to your probate lawyer so he can review it with you and help you decide how the claim should be treated.

A claim should be denied if it is unfounded. It should also be denied if the creditor fails to provide any support for the claim.  The California Probate Code requires the creditor to provide support or substantiation for the claim.  A claim should be approved if the executor or administrator believes the claim is meritorious.  It would be a waste of trust assets to use them to defend a lawsuit when it is obvious the creditor has a valid claim.  Some claims are neither obviously valid or clearly bogus.  If a creditor files a claim that appears partly valid and partly questionable then the executor should approve the claim in part and deny the claim in part.

Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman


The Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307

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