Filing a Claim against a Decedent’s Estate

When a person dies in Illinois, anyone who has a claim against a decedent’s estate —whether it is a contract, tort, or statutory custodial claim—may file that claim with the estate representative or with the court. (Note that if you file the claim with the representative, he or she has no obligation to file the claim in court.) The claim must be in writing and provide enough information so that the representative understands the nature of the claim and the relief sought. For example, someone who entered into a contract with the decedent might file a claim requesting that the decedent’s contractual obligations be fulfilled.

What is a Statutory Custodial Claim?

A statutory custodial claim rests upon specific circumstances. This claim can only be brought by someone who lived with and personally cared for a disabled family member for at least three years. Typically this claim is only available to the spouses, parents, siblings, and children of the disabled person. When considering a statutory custodial claim, the court will weigh certain factors, including:

The claimant’s lost employment opportunities;

The claimant’s lost lifestyle opportunities; and

Emotional distress that the claimant experienced while personally caring for the disabled person.

The claim is generally based upon the nature and extent of the person’s disability. However, if the living arrangement was physically or financially beneficial to the claimant, then the court may reduce the statutory award. Factors that the court will consider include:

Free or low-cost housing provided to the claimant;

The responsibility relieved of the claimant from finding full-time employment;

Personal care that the decedent provided to the claimant; and

The proximity of the claimant’s care of decedent to the time of decedent’s death.

Classification of Claims

There is often more than one claim brought against a decedent’s estate. And depending on the number of claims and the size of the decedent’s estate, not everyone might leave satisfied. Consequently, Illinois law classifies the types of claims in a hierarchical order that determines who gets paid first:

Funeral and burial expenses, administrative expenses and statutory custodial claims;

Spouse and child awards;

Debts owed to the United States, such as delinquent taxes;

Money owed to employees of the decedent up to $800 for each claimant for services rendered within the four months before the decedent’s death and expenses attending the last illness;

Money and property received or held in trust by the decedent that cannot be identified or traced;

Debts owed to Illinois or any municipality within, including counties, towns, villages, cities and school districts; and

All other claims.

If you have a claim against a decedent’s estate, we advise contacting one of our Illinois estate planning attorneys today. We can help ensure that your claim is filed correctly and that you have the opportunity to be heard in court. We can answer your questions regarding eligibility for a statutory custodial claim, surviving spouse’s or child’s award, and anything related to filing a claim against a decedent’s estate. We can assist those in the Naperville area.

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Please note: These blogs have been created over a period of time and laws and information can change. For the most current information on a topic you are interested in please seek proper legal counsel.

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