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28 September 2021

Five Steps to Probate Recovery: Move This Complex Filing to the Forefront of Your Collection Strategy


Probate recovery is a technical and time-sensitive procedure. As a creditor, it’s important to create a solid strategy for your collection process to stay prepared, maximize your recovery, and protect your brand image. In our recent Ask a Pro webinar, we detailed this complex area of the law, gave sound advice from our team’s 80+ years of combined probate experience, and answered frequently (and infrequently) asked questions. Featured in this webinar were shareholder Scott Weltman, attorney Stefanie Collier, and probate manager Michelle Moore. Moderating this interactive session was national director of collections Dave Tommer

Watch the full Ask a Pro webinar here. 

Here are our top five takeaways from this Ask a Pro session:

1. First thing’s first: discovering that a customer is deceased
You are commonly reliant on others to share this information, whether it be family members of the decedent or using a service to scrub your portfolio of clients. If you have the capacity, the best way to identify deceased customers in your portfolio is to engage in a date-of-death notification software process. Being proactive in discovering decedents gives you a foot forward in timely filing your claim. Unfortunately, it is common that you may not find out if a customer is deceased for an extended period, sometimes not at all. 
 
2. Following a deliberate path to protect your interests.
You would first start with searching for an estate under the mailing address of the decedent. Each court and state have their own rules for filing a claim, including a deadline to file and where to send and file the claim. Being aware of these deadlines and court-specific requirements is a vital part of the collection process and it is important to maintain a database with this information.

3. When questioning whether you should file a claim or not – you usually should.
For example, in situations where a creditor is secured by collateral (such as a vehicle), they should still be concerned with looking for an estate/filing a claim. Remember that creditors can always go back and amend their claims once their collateral is liquidated.

Another example is if a loan is being paid in full by a decedent's family member, the creditor should still file a claim. This conveniently opens up the opportunity for the family member to take over the collateral, ensuring that you get paid in full. 
 
4. While rare, be prepared that your claim may be rejected.
If you do nothing after your claim is rejected, you simply won’t recover. We encourage you to pursue the rejected claim as the proper legal action will almost always result in a positive result. Also, be aware that the time frame to pursue that rejected claim is typically shorter than the time frame to file your claim in the first place.
 
5. Stay compliant by keeping up with regulatory changes. 
Lastly, we want to remind you to mark your calendars for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s implementation of Regulation F on November 30, 2021. Debt collectors will now be required to provide validation information to the estate representative when collecting from the decedent’s estate. A person who is authorized to act on behalf of the estate will now be included in this protection. Make sure that you are providing valid information and using it for your deceased accounts. 
 
If you have additional questions about the probate recovery process, watch our latest Ask a Pro: Probate Recovery – How to Manage the Claim and Collection Process webinar here. Contact Scott, Stefanie, Michelle, and Dave at any time to discuss the probate process or to learn more about how you can prepare for Regulation F.

This blog is not a solicitation for business and it is not intended to constitute legal advice on specific matters, create an attorney-client relationship, or be legally binding in any way.
 

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Scott S. Weltman

Shareholder
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Stefanie Kempfer Collier

Attorney
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David B. Tommer

National Director of Collections
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