Florida Probate Question of the Day:
How do I file a Claim against an Estate & How do I even know if the Estate is opened?
A claim is a one page document that called a “statement of claim” – you should be able to find a sample online. Google “statement of claim florida probate” and see what you get. You might also be able to secure a copy from the county clerk’s office (the county in which the person resided when they died.)
However, if the decedent’s estate is not OPENED, then you can’t file a claim unless you’re willing to start the probate yourself (which you can do because a creditor is an “interested party” who has the right to at least initiate probate proceedings.) You will likely need an attorney to open up the estate if that’s the case.
If you choose not to file the claim because the estate is not yet opened, then you could file a “caveat” which basically instructs the clerk to notify you if the person’s estate is ever opened. There may be a cost involved to file a caveat so check the clerk’s office.
To find out if the estate is already opened in a Florida probate court, call the clerks’ office in the county where the person resided when they died. Ask for the probate division – they will let you know if the estate is open and may also discuss the filing of a claim or a caveat.
Note: If you do not file your claim within 2 years from date of death, your claim will likely be forever barred and you won’t be able to collect.