Most certainly not. All lawsuits must be filed against the deceased’s estate. This means you’re filing a claim against the person’s remaining property, not suing the deceased.

Estate laws, and by extension, the laws that govern the proper legal procedures for lawsuits against a deceased’s estate vary from state to state. In California, if you wish to pursue a deceased’s debt, or if they caused you injury before their passing, then you must file a case, and the his/her assets will pass through a legal process known as probate.

It is through a probate case that the legal system, among other things, determines if the will that was made by the deceased is valid. Probate oversees the distribution of the deceased’s assets among the beneficiaries, and the probate hearing is where the deceased’s financial responsibilities are settled.

If someone dies, the person who in possession of the deceased’s will must take the original copy to probate court, and send a copy to the executor of the will within 30 days. You should receive a notification of death if the manager of the deceased’s estate knows that the person who died owes you money.

After this, someone (often the next of kin of the deceased) must file a Petition of Probate in the county where the deceased lived. This person, known as ‘the petitioner’, is also required to give notice of the probate hearing to anyone who may have a right to the deceased’s estate. You may also file a Request for Special Notice to the probate court in order to receive a copy of the paperwork filed by the manager of the deceased’s estate.

If you received notice of the person’s death, you may make your claim to a part of his/her estate by submitting a Creditor’s Claim directly to the probate court.

If you did not receive notice of the person’s death, you may file a late claim up to a year from when he/she passed away.

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