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Is it possible to collect a debt for a dead relative?

Santa Ana, CA |

My uncle recently passed away and while cleaning out his house (as it is to be auctioned away late December) we found a small hand written contract with signatures from both parties stating it is to be held as a legal contract. The contract was a agreement for my uncle to loan her $100,000.00 to start a buisness and for her to pay him back at a steady rate, the buisness failed and she never paid back a dime. He was forced to rent out his house and live in the guest house in the back because of financial trouble and my mother is now stuck paying his bills which is putting out family's financial security at risk is there anyway we can start collecting the debt to help pay bills and possibly stop the process of losing the house

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Attorney answers 4


Yes, so long as the statute of limitations (4 yrs.) did not run on the written contract, the estate can enforce payment of the debt. However, first a personal representative of the estate must be appointed. When did your uncle pass away? Did he have a will or a trust? You need to speak with an attorney immediately. Please feel free to contact me to discuss this matter.

To schedule an appointment for an attorney-client privileged consultation, contact me at 530-231-4949. This response is not intended, nor should it be construed as legal advice. Any information provided is for educational purposes only. The exchange of communications through and similar social media does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me or my office. Thank you.


Counsel is correct, it is important to look at the date of this contract to ensure that the 4 yr. SOL has not yet run. Your deceased relative's estate can enforce the payment of the debt after a personal representative for the estate is appointed. You should consider speaking with an attorney immediately. Please feel free to contact my offices for a free consultation on your rights. 858 900 7342.

Hyde & Swigart is a law firm concentrating its efforts in the area of consumer law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692 et seq. (“FDCPA”), and California's Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, California Civil Code §§ 1788-1788.32 ("Rosenthal Act"). Our lawyers are specially trained in the Federal FDCPA, Consumer Defense, and other consumer related matters. Our goal is to protect you against unfair, deceptive and abusive debt collection practices. Creditors, professional debt collectors, and attorneys who violate the law are subject to paying damages, statutory penalties, and the consumer's attorneys fees and costs. If you feel you have been abused, deceived or treated unfairly, you may need a lawyer. We can be reached at 619-233-7770, through one of the evaluation forms on this site or at


Yes-an estate would have to be opened and the executor would have power to try to collect the asset.

The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


My colleagues are correct about the statute of limitations issue on the contract. You should contact a local probate attorney to review the situation and provide you with fact specific guidance and direction.

When responding to questions posted on Avvo, I provide a general purpose response based on California law as I am licensed in California. In reviewing my response, you are specifically advised that your use of, or reliance upon any response I provide is not advisable. I do not have all relevant background details or facts related to your issue / matter, thus I am not in a position to give you legal advice. Further, your review, use of, or reliance upon my response does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us nor does it qualify as a legal consultation for any purpose. For specific advice regarding your particular circumstances, you should consult and retain local counsel.

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