I am owed $30,000 from a woman who says she'll pay me when "the estate is settled", it has been a very long time and she still claims it has not been settled or the money distributed, so I assumed that it was in probate, and under the advice I received on this site, I checked with the probate court, and they say there is no record of probate on that family. Can a estate take this long to settle and not be in probate?
Estate Planning Attorney
It's hard to know exactly what the situation is. You don't say how long you've been waiting. When you mention "estate with a trust fund" I wonder if the money was possibly in a Living Trust? If so, if it were properly funded (meaning that all of the assets were owned by the trust at the time of the decedent's death), then there would be no need for probate as part of the settlement and, thus, no record with the probate court. Typically with a Living Trust the Trustee would need to do an inventory of all property owned by the Trust at the time of death, pay all debts and expenses, maybe sell real estate or otherwise liquidate assets, figure out if any taxes need to be paid, etc. prior to making distributions.