TITLE 12

Decedents' Estates and Fiduciary Relations

Administration of Decedents' Estates

CHAPTER 21. DEBTS OF AND CLAIMS AGAINST ESTATE


(a) The Register of Wills shall give notice as provided in this section of the granting of letters. Said notice shall contain the date of grant of letters, the date of the decedent's death and the name and address of the personal representative and of the personal representative's counsel, if any.

(b) Such notice shall be given in all cases by advertisements to be posted within 40 days from the grant of letters on the designated county website and/or in the county courthouse in the county in which the decedent resided at the time of death, or, in the case of nonresident decedents, in the county in which letters testamentary or of administration shall have been granted; and, such notice shall also be published in any 1 or more newspapers approved by the Register of Wills published in such county at least 3 times within the same period not less frequently than once a week for 3 successive weeks; except that if the Register of Wills at the time of granting of letters shall determine from evidence satisfactory to the Register that the gross personal estate of the decedent does not exceed $30,000 and also that the gross real and personal estate of the decedent does not in the aggregate exceed $35,000, the Register may give such notice solely by the posting of advertisements as aforesaid, and not by publication in a newspaper or newspapers.

(c) The Register of Wills may require that the actual costs and expenses of such posting and publication be advanced to the Register of Wills prior to the grant of letters. The Register shall note or record in the Register's docket the giving of notice and the form of notice given.

(d) The Register of Wills shall send a copy of the notice, described in this section, to the State Treasurer within 40 days from the grant of letters. The State Treasurer, within 40 days from the receipt of notice, and at least monthly, shall send the information included therein in a convenient or summary form to each state agency which requests the information without charge.

Code 1852, §§ 1855-1858; Code 1915, § 3398; 38 Del. Laws, c. 183, § 1; Code 1935, § 3861; 42 Del. Laws, c. 142, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2101; 57 Del. Laws, c. 173; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 64 Del. Laws, c. 319, § 1; 66 Del. Laws, c. 374, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 114, § 3; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 227, § 3; 77 Del. Laws, c. 229, § 1.;

(a) All claims against a decedent's estate which arose before the death of the decedent, including claims of the State and any subdivision thereof, whether due or to become due, absolute or contingent, liquidated or unliquidated, founded on contract, tort or other legal basis, except debts of which notice is presumed pursuant to § 2103 of this title, if not barred earlier by other statute of limitations, are barred against the estate, the personal representative and the heirs and devisees of the decedent unless presented as provided in § 2104 of this title within 8 months of the decedent's death whether or not the notice referred to in § 2101 of this title has been given.

(b) All claims against a decedent's estate which arise at or after the death of the decedent, including claims of the State or any subdivision thereof, whether due or to become due, absolute or contingent, liquidated or unliquidated, founded on contract, tort or other legal basis, unless presented in accordance with § 2104 of this title, are barred against the estate, the personal representatives and the heirs and devisees of the decedent, as follows:

(1) A claim based on a contract with the personal representative, within 6 months after performance by the personal representative is due;

(2) Any other claim, within 6 months after it arises.

(c) Any claim not barred under subsections (a) and (b) of this section which has been rejected by an executor or administrator shall be barred forever unless an action or suit be commenced thereon within 3 months after the executor or administrator has notified the claimant of such rejection by writing delivered to the claimant in person or mailed to the claimant's last address known to the executor or administrator; provided, however, in the case of a claim which is not presently due or which is contingent or unliquidated, the executor or administrator may consent to an extension of the 3-month period, or to avoid injustice the Court of Chancery, on petition, may order an extension of the 3-month period, but in no event shall the extension run beyond the applicable statute of limitations.

(d) Subsections (a), (b) and (c) of this section shall not apply to claims for legacies or shares of an estate of a decedent.

(e)(1) No claim for a deficiency or otherwise, based on a bond which has been secured by a mortgage on real estate, may be presented against a decedent's estate, the personal representative and the heirs and devisees of a decedent after the expiration of 8 months from the date of the decedent's death.

(2) The failure to present a claim on a bond secured by a mortgage on real estate, in accordance with the foregoing provisions, shall not invalidate the bond so as to prevent the foreclosure of the mortgage on real estate at any time thereafter, but no claim may be asserted against the decedent's estate on or by reason of the bond.

(f) Nothing in this section affects or prevents, to the limits of the insurance protection only, any proceeding to establish liability of the decedent or the personal representative for which the decedent is protected by liability insurance.

(g) No claim against the estate of any decedent in which letters were granted prior to the effective date of this chapter shall be in any way affected by this section, but as to all such claims this section as it existed prior to the effective date of this chapter shall apply.

Code 1852, §§ 1855-1858; Code 1915, § 3398; 38 Del. Laws, c. 183, § 1; Code 1935, § 3861; 42 Del. Laws, c. 142, §§ 1, 3, 4; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2102; 50 Del. Laws, c. 377, §§ 1-3; 58 Del. Laws, c. 493, § 1; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 66 Del. Laws, c. 374, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

An executor or administrator shall be deemed to have notice only to mortgages (but not of the bonds accompanying such mortgages) and of such judgments as would be liens against real estate at the date of death of the decedent, which mortgages and judgments are of record in the county of this State in which letters were granted upon the estate of the decedent, unless there has been a failure to insert them in the general indices of the office wherein it is proper that they be recorded.

Code 1852, § 1830; Code 1915, § 3374; 38 Del. Laws, c. 181, § 1; Code 1935, § 3839; 47 Del. Laws, c. 116, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2103; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1.;

Claims against a decedent's estate may be presented as follows:

(1) The claimant may deliver or mail to the personal representative a written statement of claim indicating its basis, the name and address of the claimant and the amount claimed, or may file a written statement of claim, in the form prescribed by rule of the Court of Chancery, with the Register of Wills. The claim is deemed presented on the first to occur of the receipt of the written statement of claim by the personal representative, or the filing of the claim with the Register of Wills. If a claim is not yet due, the date when it will become due shall be stated. If the claim is contingent or unliquidated, the nature of the uncertainty shall be stated. If the claim is secured, the security shall be described. Failure to describe correctly the security, the nature of any uncertainty and the due date of a claim not yet due does not invalidate the presentation made.

(2) The claimant may commence a proceeding against the personal representative in any court where the personal representative may be subject to jurisdiction, to obtain payment of the claim against the estate, but the commencement of the proceeding must occur within the time limited for presenting the claim. No presentation of claim is required in regard to matters claimed in proceedings against the decedent which were pending at the time of the decedent's death.

Code 1852, §§ 1832-1835, 1837; Code 1915, §§ 3376, 3377; Code 1935, §§ 3841, 3842; 48 Del. Laws, c. 232, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2104; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) Executors and administrators after payment of all administration expenses, fees and commissions shall pay claims against the decedent in the following order:

(1) Surviving spouse's allowance as provided in § 2308 of this title;

(2) Funeral expenses;

(3) Child support arrears or retroactive support due as of the date of the decedent's death;

(4) The reasonable bills for medicine and medical attendance during the last sickness and for nursing and necessaries for the last sickness of the decedent;

(5) Wages of servants and laborers employed in household affairs or in the cultivation of a farm; but no servant or laborer shall be allowed this preference for more than 1 year's wages;

(6) Taxes imposed by the State;

(7) Rent for not exceeding 1 year; and this, at the election of the party entitled, may be of rent in arrear or rent growing due;

(8) Judgments against the decedent, which shall include judgments before justices of the peace and decrees of a court of equity against the decedent for the payment of money;

(9) Recognizances, mortgages and other obligations of record, for the payment of money;

(10) Obligations and contracts under seal;

(11) Contracts under hand for the payment of money, or delivery of goods, wares or merchandise;

(12) Other demands.

(b) No preference shall be given in the payment of any claims over any other claims of the same class, and a claim due and payable shall not be entitled to a preference over claims not due.

Code 1852, §§ 1819-1828; 12 Del. Laws, c. 13, § 1; Code 1915, § 3372; 28 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 1; Code 1935, § 3837; 41 Del. Laws, c. 191, § 4; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2105; 50 Del. Laws, c. 425, § 1; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 288, § 6.;

Whenever an executor or administrator is unable to determine between 2 or more creditors the order of preference to be given to their respective demands, the executor or administrator may, upon petition to the Court of Chancery, have the parties in interest summoned to appear in the Court, and upon hearing duly had the Court shall determine the order of preference to be given to the respective demands of the creditors who may have been made parties to the proceeding. Upon compliance with such determination the petitioner and the petitioner's sureties shall be discharged from all further liability in respect to the preference made by the Court.

Code 1915, § 3410A; 28 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 1; Code 1935, § 3837; 41 Del. Laws, c. 191, § 4; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2106; 57 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 3; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

If an executor or administrator, after the expiration of 3 months from the grant of letters, pays a claim of lower preference, before presentation pursuant to § 2104 of this title of a claim of a higher preference, such payment shall be allowed.

Code 1852, § 1829; Code 1915, § 3373; Code 1935, § 3838; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2107; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

If no letters have been granted upon the estate of any person within 10 years from the date of the person's death, all claims of creditors and persons otherwise beneficially interested in the estate, except those evidenced by mortgage or judgment which shall be controlled by the law applicable to mortgages and judgments as heretofore, shall be thereafter barred.

12 Del. C. 1953, § 2109; 52 Del. Laws, c. 333; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1.;