Creditors in Oklahoma probate estate can be anything from decedent’s credit card debt, last medical expenses, or a judgment lien. Paying the proper creditor claims of the estate is one of the duties of an Oklahoma personal representative, as is giving potential creditors proper notice that an estate is pending.
The Oklahoma Probate Code addresses creditor claims in Title 58, sections 331-354.
Notice To Creditors In Oklahoma Probate
Within two months after the issuance of the personal representative’s letters, the personal representative must file notice to the creditors of the decedent.
Notice must be given by the personal representative to known creditors and reasonably ascertainable creditors.
Known and Reasonably Ascertainable Creditors
Known creditors are those creditors actually known to the personal representative or reasonably ascertainable by the personal representative as of the date notice to creditors is filed.
“Reasonably ascertainable creditors” are those whose identities, last-known addresses and claims can be determined by reasonably diligent efforts of the personal representative. 58 OK Stat §58-331.1.
The notice to creditors is required to be filed with the clerk of court. The notice must also be published in a county newspaper twice over two consecutive weeks. Publication must occur within 10 days of filing the notice to creditors. The Oklahoma personal representative is also required to mail notice to the known creditors of the decedent.
Contents Of the Notice To Creditors
The notice to creditors must state that claims against the decedent will be forever barred unless presented to the personal representative by the presentment date stated on the notice. 58 OK Stat §58-331 provides the language that should be substantially followed:
All creditors having claims against A B, deceased, are required to present the same, with a description of all security interests and other collateral (if any) held by each creditor with respect to such claim, to the named personal representative at ______ (address of the personal representative or attorney for the personal representative) on or before the following presentment date: _________________, or the same will be forever barred.
The presentment date must be a date certain that is at least two months following the date the notice is filed.
How Does the Personal Representative Locate a Decedent’s Creditors?
A personal representative is required to make diligent search for the decedent’s creditors. The personal representative should go through the decedent’s mail and bank statements to search for a decedent’s creditors. All of these creditors should be sent a notice to creditors.
How Does a Creditor Present a Valid Claim In Oklahoma Probate?
Upon receipt of the notice to creditors, a creditor must present a valid claim to the personal representative of the Oklahoma probate estate. To be valid, the claim must be timely presented and must be signed by the claimant or the claimant’s authorized representative. Failure by a creditor who received notice to present a claim by the presentment date operates as a bar to payment of the creditor claim under Oklahoma probate law.
Every claim which is due when presented to the personal representative must:
- State the exact amount claimed
- State with reasonable particularity the nature and source of the claim
- State if the claim is secured by a security interest, mortgage or other lien which has been filed or recorded according to law
- Contain a brief description of such interest mortgage or lien and of the collateral covered thereby
Approval or Rejection of the Oklahoma Creditor Claim
Once a claim has been properly presented, the Oklahoma personal representative must either approve or reject the creditor claim, either in part or in whole.
If the personal representative allows the creditor claim, the claim must be presented to the judge for approval. The judge, like the personal representative, must allow or reject the claim. After the judge approves the claim, the personal representative has 30 days to file the claim with the clerk.
If the Oklahoma personal representative rejects the probate creditor claim, in whole or in part, the personal representative shall mail a notice of such rejection to the creditor, by regular, first-class mail, to the creditor’s address last-known to the personal representative-, not later than five (5) days following the date of such partial or total rejection. 58 OK Stat § 58-337.
Suit By a Creditor On a Rejected Claim
If the Oklahoma personal representative rejects a creditor claim, the ball is back in the creditor’s court. The creditor has 45 days after the date the claim is rejected, if due, or within two months after it becomes due, to bring an ancillary proceeding or an independent action on the claim. 58 OK Stat § 58-339.
Dealing with creditor claims is an important responsibility of an Oklahoma personal representative, with strict deadlines and requirements. A personal representative will work closely with their Oklahoma probate attorney to properly address the probate estate’s creditors.