Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in New York

someone else's creditors

On or about a year ago A passed away leaving B the estate. B was named Executor. B is the child of A. Upon sending letters and death certificates as directed by B's attorney, B has not heard from A's creditors in more than 7 months now prior to probate. Can B assume that the debts have been written off?

Asked on 3/15/04, 10:36 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Daniel Clement Law Offices of Daniel Clement

Re: someone else's creditors

I would not make any assumptions. If you believe they were written off you should ask fo releases.

Daniel Clement

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Answered on 3/16/04, 10:08 am
Andrew Nitzberg Andrew Nitzberg & Associates

Re: someone else's creditors

This is an interesting question.

The lack of an answer is not an act that will relieve the estate of the debts. However, there is the doctrine of 'laches' or 'estoppel'.

If the executor is unaware of a debt and the creditor is contacted and does not respond, then the executor may consider whether he can distribute the assets of the estate without liability.

The question is - how far must the executor go to inform the creditor before he has a right to distribute? I would say 3 letters over 6 months.

Of course, if the executor knows of the debt, then it must be paid or it can still be claimed by the creditor.

How did you choose to write to these creditors and what do you know of the deceased's finances?

You are welcome to a consultation for no fee at my offices at 42 West 44th Street, New York, NY. Please call for an appointment first; (646)- 591-5786

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Answered on 3/17/04, 3:34 pm
Eric Kochel The Law Office of Eric David Kochel, Esq., P.C.

Re: someone else's creditors

Technically there is really no such thing as "writing a debt off" that eliminates the obligation of the estate to pay. Unless the debt is actually settled or forgiven and you have something in writing from the creditor that says they will no longer pursue the debt in any way, the estate may continue be liable. Some debts are eliminated upon death as agreed to in the original debt agreement with the creditor. "Writing a debt off" however is often just an accounting procedure creditors have to clear the books. They often continue to collect on the debt through a debt collection agency or attorney.

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Answered on 3/16/04, 1:22 pm

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