Much of the time, the named executor of an estate in Los Angeles is not an attorney or someone else who has dealt with handling an estate's affairs before. Many people select a relative or trusted friend to serve as executor when they write their will or trust.
While many times, the probate process goes fairly smoothly, often when an executor notifies the public that creditors may make claims against the estate, he or she is flooded with unexpected claims. Fortunately, probate courts in California have a process by which creditor claims against an estate are accepted and paid or rejected.
As mentioned above, one responsibility an executor of a will has is to provide notice that the will has been submitted to probate. That is so that people, businesses or other entities to whom the deceased owed money can request payment out of the assets the deceased left behind.
To properly file a claim, creditors must file a form with the court called California Judicial Council DE-172 and serve the executor as well. Simply sending a letter or a copy of the DE-172 form to the executor is not sufficient.
Once notified of all claims, the executor decides which ones to accept and pay off and which ones to deny. The court has another form for executors called Allowance or Rejection of Creditor's Claim (Probate-Decedents' Estates) for that purpose.
Once a claim is rejected or the executor declines to pay the entire claim, the claimant has the option to file a lawsuit but must do so within a certain time period. Statutes of limitation vary depending on the type of claim but do not exceed one year.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Tying up loose ends after condo owner dies," Donie Vanitzian, May 3, 2013