How does our cleaning business get paid when the owner has passed away?

1 week ago

The original owner of the property where the work was performed passed away in August. The title was in his girlfriend’s name with no TOD. Where do we start to try and collect our monies due? Do we try and notify the girlfriend or do we try and attach it to the rest of the estate which is now in probate? The owner that passed away lived in Illinois but the work that was performed was on a property that is in the state of Missouri in the county of Spanish Lake?

Senior Legal Associate Levelset

First, I’ll note that our expertise here at the Expert Center lies in construction law and construction payment. So, this is a bit outside of my wheelhouse. Further, since you mentioned the property title and attachment – note also that mechanics lien rights generally won’t be available for cleaning services, which we discuss here: Can You File A Mechanics Lien for Cleaning Services?

When someone owes a debt but passes away before making payment, generally, their estate can be held liable for that debt, just as they could before they passed. So, if it becomes necessary, a contract claim, unjust enrichment claim, etc. could be made against the estate to recover payment.

Granted, before springing to legal claims, approaching a representative of the estate with documentation of the debt that’s owed could help to recover payment without creating a larger dispute about it. And, contacting any party involved with the deceased’s property or estate that might ultimately pay the bill could help – the more parties aware of the debt, the higher the likelihood the debt might be paid.

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