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  • Writer's pictureDenise Davis

Denying a Creditors Claim Against Your Loved One's Estate

Updated: May 7

fighting over money

As an executor of an estate in North Carolina, one of the crucial responsibilities you bear is managing creditor claims against the estate. These claims, ranging from outstanding debts to financial obligations, often add complexity to the already intricate process of estate administration.

When faced with a creditor claim that you believe is invalid or should not be paid, it's imperative to handle the situation with care, following legal procedures and ensuring transparency throughout the probate process.

Denying a Creditor Claim First Step

Upon receiving a creditor claim, the executor's first step is to conduct a thorough review of the claim and associated documentation. This involves assessing the validity of the claim under North Carolina probate law.

Common reasons for denying a creditor claim include:

  • insufficient evidence supporting the debt,

  • expiration of the statute of limitations,

  • or dispute over the validity of the debt.

Once the executor has determined that the claim should be denied, they should prepare a formal denial letter to the creditor. The letter should clearly outline the reasons for the denial and provide specific details supporting the decision.

Additionally, the executor may offer the creditor the option of alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration or mediation, to resolve the dispute outside of formal litigation.

NC Arbitration

Arbitration hearing

When an executor denies a claim made by a creditor against an estate and the creditor disputes the denial, the matter may proceed to arbitration as an alternative dispute resolution method.

Arbitration is a process where an impartial third party, known as an arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators, is appointed to by the clerk of court to review the dispute and render a decision.

Here's what happens if an executor denies a creditor claim and the matter goes to arbitration:

  1. Agreement to Arbitrate: If both parties agree to arbitration, the clerk of court will select an arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators to preside over the dispute. The arbitrator(s) are typically individuals with expertise in the relevant area of law or industry.

  2. Arbitration Process: The arbitration process begins with the scheduling of a hearing where both parties present their arguments, evidence, and witnesses. The arbitrator(s) will listen to the arguments from both sides and may ask questions to clarify any issues.

  3. Evidence and Testimony: During the arbitration hearing, each party has the opportunity to present evidence and testimony supporting their position. This may include documents, contracts, invoices, correspondence, and witness statements relevant to the dispute.

  4. Arbitration Decision: After considering all the evidence and arguments presented, the arbitrator(s) will render a decision on the dispute. This decision is typically final and binding on both parties, meaning they are obligated to abide by the arbitrator's ruling.

  5. Enforcement of Arbitration Award: If the arbitrator(s) rule in favor of the creditor, the executor may be required to pay the amount awarded to the creditor from the assets of the estate. Conversely, if the arbitrator(s) rule in favor of the executor, the creditor's claim may be dismissed, and they may not receive any payment from the estate.

  6. Legal Recourse: In some cases, either party may seek judicial review of the arbitration award if they believe there are grounds for appeal, such as misconduct by the arbitrator(s) or errors in the arbitration process. However, judicial review of arbitration awards is typically limited and may only be granted in specific circumstances.

It's important for the executor to engage legal counsel experienced in arbitration proceedings to represent the interests of the estate effectively. Legal guidance can help ensure that the executor understands their rights and obligations throughout the arbitration process and can navigate any complexities or challenges that may arise.

Filing the Denial Letter With the Clerk of Court

clerk of court

After drafting the denial letter, the executor must file it with the clerk of superior court office in the county where the estate is being administered.

Filing the denial letter with the court serves as official documentation of the executor's decision and ensures that all interested parties, including the court and other creditors, are notified of the denial.

When submitting the denial letter to the clerk of superior court office, the executor should include any supporting documentation that reinforces the decision to deny the creditor claim.

This documentation serves as a lawful voucher for the executor, providing evidence that they acted in accordance with North Carolina probate laws.

Additional Considerations

In addition to filing the denial letter with the court, the executor should maintain open communication with the creditor throughout the process. Transparency and cooperation can help mitigate conflicts and facilitate a smoother resolution of the dispute.

The executor should also be prepared to respond to any inquiries or requests for clarification from the creditor or the court.

Although you do not have to have a lawyer to file probate in North Carolina or to deny claims to creditors, for the best results, It's important for the executor to consult with legal counsel experienced in North Carolina probate and estate law to ensure compliance with all legal requirements and procedures.

Legal guidance can provide invaluable support in navigating the complexities of creditor claims and protecting the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries.

Sample Letter To Send to Creditors To Deny A Claim Against an Estate

[Executor's Name]

[Executor's Address]

[City, State, Zip Code]


[Creditor's Name]

[Creditor's Address]

[City, State, Zip Code]

Dear [Creditor's Name],

I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to address the claim you have submitted against the estate of [Deceased's Name] for the amount of $.

Upon careful review and consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your claim at this time. After reviewing the your documentation, it has been determined that [provide specific reasons for the denial, such as lack of evidence supporting the claim or disagreement over the validity of the debt, etc.]

However, as the executor of the estate, I have the authority to enter into an agreement with you to refer the matter in controversy to arbitration.

This alternative dispute resolution process involves appointing one or more neutral arbitrators whom the clerk of court will chose to review the dispute and render a decision. If you are open to arbitration, please let me know, and we can proceed accordingly.

Please understand that our decision to deny the claim is not meant to cause any hardship or inconvenience. As the executor, I simply must ensure that all claims against the estate are handled in accordance with the law and the wishes of [Decedent's Name].

Enclosed with this letter, you will find a copy of the documentation supporting the denial of your claim [attach any supporting documents you have]. This documentation serves as a lawful voucher for our decision and provides evidence of our compliance with the law in this matter.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this difficult time. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss further, please do not hesitate to contact me at

[Your Phone Number] or [Your Email Address].

With warm regards,

[Executor's Name]

**Please ensure that your letter is sent to the creditor's office via a method that requires a signature upon delivery. Upon receiving the signed receipt as proof of delivery, kindly forward a copy of the letter along with the signed receipt to the clerk of court office for proper filing.

In Conclusion,

Denying a creditor claim against an estate in North Carolina requires careful consideration, adherence to legal procedures, and transparent communication.

By following the appropriate steps and seeking legal guidance when needed, the executor can effectively navigate the challenges of creditor claims and fulfill their duties in administering the estate.

Denise Davis realtor and probate real estate specialist

Denise Harper Davis


Realtor | Investor | Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist

If you need a realtor to help you sell a home you inherited, a home included in probate or maybe you just want to sell a home you own, contact me.  I am a NC realtor and together we will discuss the best options to get your home sold. Whether it's a quick cash offer or listing it on the market for top-dollar, I can help you!

📌 Disclaimer: The above information is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Consult with a qualified attorney for personalized guidance on your specific situation.

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