Is there a statute of limitations on when creditors can ask for money after a parent's death?

Bn2cuise asked...

I live in New Jersey and my mother has been deceased for over a year and I just received a bill from the nursing home from 2005. Is there a statute of limitations on when creditors can ask for money?

Expert Answer

Amy Shelf is an attorney specializing in estate planning and probate for individuals and families of all means.

It must have been quite an unwelcome surprise to receive that bill.

Your hunch was right: There is a statute of limitations for creditors’ claims against an estate. New Jersey gives creditors nine months from the date of death to present claims to the personal representative.

The statute of limitations protects you -- and your mother's estate -- as long as the nursing home and other creditors of the estate received formal notice of your mother's death.

If notice was not given, and the entire estate was distributed, you may be liable for the claim. If the entire estate was not distributed, you may be permitted or required to pay the claim, even though it was made beyond the nine-month deadline.

As a practical matter, given that the bill came so late, the nursing home may be willing to accept less than full payment. In addition, as you investigate what the bill is for and why it was delayed, you also should make sure that your mother’s insurance company, if there was one, paid what it what required to pay.