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Guide To Creditor Claims In New Jersey Estates

A creditor claim is filed in a New Jersey estate by a person or entity that was owed money by the decedent at the time of decedent’s death.  A New Jersey personal representative is not obligated to pay every creditor claim that is filed, and there are time limitations imposed on creditor within which to file a statement of claim so that estate can be administered in a timely fashion.

What Is the Deadline For Creditors To File Claims Against a New Jersey Estate?

Nine months from death.  See other important Deadlines and Timelines In New Jersey Probate.

Under New Jersey law, a creditor of an estate must present their claim to the personal representative within nine months from the decedent’s death.  If a creditor does not present their claim against the estate within nine months from the decedent’s death, the personal representative is not liable to the creditor.  See NJ Stat § 3B:22-4.  This nine month time period is one of the reasons for the length of time it takes to probate a New Jersey estate.

However, just because a creditor does not file a claim within nine months of death does not mean that the creditor is totally barred.  A creditor can still file a claim against the estate “at any time before the remaining assets of the estate shall have been distributed or paid over pursuant to law.” NJ Stat § 3B:22-10.

The court may not compel the personal representative of a New Jersey estate to pay any claim not presented within the nine month period “unless the court shall, for good cause shown, so direct or until his account has been settled by the court and the court has authorized or directed him to make the payment.  NJ Stat § 3B:22-14.

How Does a Creditor Present a Claim Against a New Jersey Estate?

A creditor of a New Jersey estate is required to present their claims to the personal representative of the estate in writing and under oath.  The creditor must specify the amount claimed and the particulars of the claim.  This document is called a “statement of claim.”

Can a New Jersey Personal Representative Pay a Creditor Claim That Was Not Legally Presented?

Yes, a New Jersey personal representative can pay a creditor claim that was not legally presented, but does so at their own risk.  NJ Stat § 3B:22-6 states:

If a personal representative in good faith pays a claim presented to him which is not verified as required, and, on or before final accounting, it is proved to the court or surrogate that the claim was owed by the decedent and was a just claim against the estate, the court shall allow in the personal representative’s account the full amount of the claim if the estate is sufficient to pay the debts of equal degree with the claim in full. If the estate is not sufficient for that purpose, he shall be allowed the pro rata amount the creditor would have been entitled to receive if the claim had been presented verified as required.

How Long Does a New Jersey Personal Representative Have to Allow or Reject a Claim?

Three months.  Within three months after presentation of a claim, the personal representative shall allow or dispute it or allow it in part and dispute it in part, and give notice in writing to the creditor, his agent or attorney, of that which he allows or disputes.  See NJ Stat § 3B:22-7.

What Can a Creditor Do If a Claim Is Rejected?

Commence a separate action.  If the New Jersey personal representative rejects a claim, the creditor has one month after being notified of the rejection to commence an action upon the claim.  If the creditor fails to bring an action, the creditor is forever barred from any action against the New Jersey personal representative to recover on the claim.  NJ Stat § 3B:22-13.

If you are a personal representative of a New Jersey estate, your New Jersey probate lawyer will help you assess and address any creditor claims presented against the estate.

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