The HFS Bureau of Collections (BOC) files the claims on estates. They:
- decide if a claim can be filed;
- see what the estate's resources are;
- ask the person handling the estate to open the estate or make a voluntary settlement; and
- file the claim when the estate has been opened.
There are 3 ways an estate may be handled:
1. Estate is Opened
An administrator is the person who handles an estate of someone who dies without a will. When there is a will, the person is called an executor.
To open the estate there has to be a formal appointment of an administrator or executor by the probate court. After the appointment is made, the administrator or executor has to:
- publish a death notice for interested persons;
- tell them the name and address of the administrator or executor; and
- give the final date for filing claims for repayment.
NOTE: The date by which claims have to be filed is the latest of:
- 3 months from when the estate's creditors get notice, or
- 6 months from when the death notice was first published in the local newspaper.
HFS BOC files claims on all cases active, suspended, or closed.
2. Estate is Not Opened
Under some circumstances the estate may not be opened. This can happen when there are no heirs to open the estate or when the heirs refuse to open the estate.
There are several ways for HFS to get money if the estate is big enough to pay at least part of what is owed. HFS BOC can:
- ask the county official responsible for estates to administer the estate; or
- ask the Attorney General to request the Probate Court to appoint an administrator; or
- use a small estates affidavit.
3. Voluntary Settlement
If the heirs offer to settle the claim, the offer will be handled by HFS BOC. If the heirs would like to settle the claim, contact the HFS BOC Technical Recovery Section.