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Collection letter addressed to deceased mother


boydcrowder
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My mother passed away in October of last year. Her estate (very small but enough to pay off this debt) is currently in probate in NJ, and I am the executor. I live out of state.

 

She had a leased car which I had no use for and couldn't store, so I turned it back in to Infiniti in November. I talked to them before and after turning it in, and they told me that they would auction the car, use a formula to adjust the balance (they apparently couldn't estimate in advance what the estate might owe), and then calculate a final bill. Depending on who I talked to, they also said they they either likely or definitely wouldn't try to collect from the estate.

 

In early February, I received a bill for the full amount left on the lease plus a variety of additional fees (late fees, disposition fees, etc.) - about 8k total. There was no adjustment for any auctioning of the car. I called Infiniti again, and was told that I didn't need to take any action on this bill as it was just auto-generated from the balance. They said that I needed to wait until I heard from the Loss Recovery department, as that would reflect the actual final amount owed.  The woman I spoke with also again reiterated that they likely wouldn't try to collect.

 

Then this week I received a collection letter from Vital Recovery for the full 8K owed, addressed to my mother's old name (she had since gotten divorced) at my address - I suspect I gave Infiniti my address at some point, but am not sure why they got my mother's name wrong. I tried to call Infiniti, as this didn't appear to follow the process that multiple people told me it would, but after entering my mother's account was auto-connected to Vital Recovery. This may have been a mistake, but I spoke to someone there and told them my mother was deceased. They told me to send in a death certificate, at which point this case would be closed, but that they would then try to identify the estate. I am not sure if the guy I spoke to actually recorded that info.

 

My general view on this is that the estate owes something, but certainly not more than was left on the lease, since I returned the car and they told me the bill would be adjusted based on the auction price of the car. I would also ideally like to have a little bit left in the estate to distribute to myself and my sister. I feel like I have three primary options at this point:

 

1 - Send in the death certificate, then wait to see if they identify the estate and contact me again. The upside here is that I may never hear from them, while the downside is that this drags the process out. I'm not entirely sure about how the probate process would work, but I suspect they could also submit a claim in probate court. I don't have a good sense of how much I'd be likely to pay in that scenario, or if I'd have a chance to negotiate before they did that.

 

2- Call now, and tell them that while I could submit the death certificate and drag this out, I'd rather settle this now. The upside is that I suspect I'd have negotiation leverage, as they wouldn't need to go through the trouble of identifying and trying to collect from an estate that they know nothing about. The downside is that this probably guarantees I pay a decent portion of the debt - maybe at least 1/3? Not sure.

 

3- Ignore it. Upside is I may never hear from them, downside is I won't know the status of the debt to assist with closing out the estate and it could get submitted to probate court.

 

I'd really appreciate any thoughts on how to best deal with this situation, and what is a reasonable amount to expect to pay from the estate. Thanks in advance for any help.

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Will there be any money after all bills are paid?  Funeral service, court fees if any, your fee for being executor.  If not I would tell them to stuff it.  They have the car that's it. 

 

The down side is that if they want to they can come after you as executor if you settle the estate and it is proven that there was enough money to pay the bill.

 

But to be honest I would not worry about it.

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I would simply submit a bill to the Estate for your Fiduciary Fees equal to the amount of assets in the estate minus any other Estate settlement fees so the Estate has nothing and tell the creditors to go whistle. Estate settlement fees are a priority item and take precedence over all other debts except taxes.

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There would be enough money in the estate to settle the bill, although I don't think the full sum they are asking for is legitimate.

It looks like much of the estate will end up being used up to pay all those legal fees a lawyer will be needed for to defend the lawsuit.  So what happens when all the money is gone? Well, a local attorney of your choice will have a lot of it.  At least creditors that fraudulently juggle the numbers in collection accounts won't.

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I would simply submit a bill to the Estate for your Fiduciary Fees equal to the amount of assets in the estate minus any other Estate settlement fees so the Estate has nothing and tell the creditors to go whistle. Estate settlement fees are a priority item and take precedence over all other debts except taxes.

 

Wish I could do this, but in NJ the executor can only take a 5% fee, so I don't think this would stand up if anyone looked into it,

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Wish I could do this, but in NJ the executor can only take a 5% fee, so I don't think this would stand up if anyone looked into it,

But this does not count costs, like attorney fees, right?  If a creditor is making false claims, then you need to engage the services of an attorney to protect the rightful claims.  That could get expensive and eat up the entire estate if the one bad creditor persists.  If it is going to be the case that the estate will leave nothing to heirs because of one bad creditor, I'd rather see the money go to a land shark than a catfish.

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Go on the offensive and sue them first for violations, IIED and others and maybe make some coin the lawyer can take estate funds to pay and at the end the estate makes money back and list the car as stolen by them if they did this as they have possesion and are bs'ing around.

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Claims against an estate,,upon the death of a person and beginning of probate (filing of will, etc), a person believing he/she is owed money should file a written claim (statement) promptly with the executor or administrator of the estate, who will then approve it, in whole or in part, or deny the claim. If the claim is not approved the claimant can demand a hearing to have the court determine his/her rights. The period for filing a claim begins upon publication of a death notice or a date specified by state law and continues for a few months. Ca law specifies 4 months.  If there is no probate the claim should be made to the heirs.

 

So if they have not timely filed against the estate they have no claim. I would wait and see if they file first, they may wait till it too late. It is already past the four months, tell them to go flip sand. their only claim left is they notified you directly, but they still did not file a legal claim against the estate.

 

When a person dies, his or her estate must go through probate, which is a process overseen by a probate court. If the decedent leaves a will directing how his or her property should be distributed after death, the probate court must determine if it should be admitted to probate and given legal effect. If the decedent dies intestate—without leaving a will—the court appoints a Personal representative to distribute the decedent's property according to the laws of Decent and Distribution. These laws direct the distribution of assets based on hereditary succession.

 

Read up on your state laws pertaining to this.

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Guest usctrojanalum

Who are the heirs?

 

They are the only ones who could complain.......

 

No. Any creditor with a claim could complain.

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