Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 9. Claims.


§ 20–901. Claim not paid in normal course of administration.

No proceeding to enforce a claim against a decedent’s estate may be revived or commenced before the appointment of a personal representative. After appointment, and until the estate is closed, the procedures prescribed by this chapter shall be followed. After the estate is closed, a creditor whose claim has not been barred may recover directly from the persons to whom property has been distributed as provided in sections 20-1302 and 20-1303 or from a personal representative individually as provided in section 20-1303 .


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-901.


§ 20–902. Effect of statute of limitations.

Unless a contrary intent is expressly indicated in the will, no claim which was barred by any statute of limitations at the time of the decedent’s death shall be allowed or paid. In an action against the estate of a deceased person, the interval between the death of the deceased and 6 months after the date of the first publication of notice of the appointment of a personal representative (not to exceed 2 years) shall not be computed as a part of the period within which the action must be brought.


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-902.


§ 20–903. Limitation on presentation of claims against the estate.

(a) Requirement of presentation; time; limitation. — Except as otherwise expressly provided by statute with respect to claims of the United States and the District of Columbia, (1) all claims against a decedent’s estate, whether due or to become due, absolute or contingent, liquidated or unliquidated, founded on contract or other legal basis, shall be barred against the estate, the personal representative, and the heirs and legatees, unless presented within 6 months after the date of the first publication of notice of the appointment of a personal representative; and (2) all claims against the estate based on the conduct of or a contract with a personal representative shall be barred unless an action is commenced against the estate within 6 months of the date the claim arose.

(b) Liens not affected. — Nothing in this section shall affect or prevent any action or proceeding to enforce any mortgage, pledge, judgment, or other recorded or otherwise perfected security interest on property of the estate.

(c) Action instituted before death. — Nothing in this section shall affect any action that was commenced against the decedent if the decedent had been duly served with process before death; provided, however, that the personal representative shall not be personally liable on account of having paid a claim or distributed assets, without taking into consideration claims prosecuted in accordance with this subsection if, at the time of payment or distribution (1) the personal representative had no actual knowledge of such claim, and (2) the claimant had not timely presented such claim in accordance with section 20-905.

(d) Claims covered by insurance. — Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, no claim that survives death shall be barred if: (1) the claimant commences an action against the estate within the period of limitations generally applicable to such causes of action; (2) the decedent was covered by a liability insurance policy at the time of the occurrence on which the claim is based; and (3) the subject matter of the claim is within the scope of that policy; provided, that in that cause of action recovery shall be limited to amounts payable under such liability insurance policy.


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-903.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 19-1305.05, § 20-905, and § 20-908.


§ 20–904. Exempt assets.

Where the decedent was the head of the family or a householder the property exempt under sections 15-501 through 15-503 shall continue to be exempt from all claims against the decedent.


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-904.


§ 20–905. Manner of presentation of claim.

(a) A claimant shall present a claim against a decedent’s estate by delivering or mailing, return receipt requested, a written statement of the claim, verified in accordance with section 20-102:

(1) to the personal representative with a copy to the Register; or

(2) to the Register with a copy to the personal representative.

For purposes of presenting a claim within the 6-month time limits provided in section 20-903 , a claim shall be deemed presented if inadvertently it is only sent either to the personal representative or to the Register pursuant to this section.

(b) A statement of a claim shall state:

(1) the name and address of the claimant;

(2) the basis of the claim;

(3) the amount claimed;

(4) if the claim is not yet due, when the claim will become due;

(5) if the claim is contingent, the nature of the contingency; and

(6) if the claim is secured, a description of the security.

(c) The Court may, in its discretion, disallow a claim, in whole or in part, if the claimant fails to comply with subsections (a) and (b) or with the personal representative’s reasonable requests for additional information.


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155; Mar. 21, 1995, D.C. Law 10-241, § 3(fff), 42 DCR 63.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-905.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 20-343, § 20-903, § 20-908, and § 20-910.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of § 4 of D.C. Law 10-241, see § 2 of the Probate Reform Act of 1994 Emergency Amendment Act of 1995 (D.C. Act 11-79, June 28, 1995, 42 DCR 3452).

Editor's Notes

Application of Law 10-241: Section 4 of D.C. Law 10-241, as amended by § 2 of D.C. Law 11-54, provided that the act shall be applicable to estates of decedents who died on or after July 1, 1995.


§ 20–906. Order of payment.

(a) If the applicable assets of the estate are insufficient to pay all claims in full, the personal representative shall make payment in the following order:

(1) Court costs, publication costs, and bond premiums;

(2) Funeral expenses, not exceeding $1,500;

(3) Fiduciary and attorney’s fees, not exceeding $1,000;

(4) The homestead allowance pursuant to section 19-101.02 and the family allowance pursuant to section 19-101.04;

(5) Exempt property pursuant to section 19-101.03;

(6) Reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last illness of the decedent, including compensation of persons attending the decedent;

(7) Claims for rent in arrears for which an attachment might be levied by law;

(8) Judgment and decrees of courts in the District of Columbia; and

(9) All other just claims.

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


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155; Mar. 21, 1995, D.C. Law 10-241, § 3(ggg), 42 DCR 63; Mar. 24, 1998, D.C. Law 12-81, § 13(e), 45 DCR 745; Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-292, § 902, 48 DCR 2087.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-906.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 19-101.02, § 19-101.03, § 19-101.04, § 20-353, § 20-741, and § 20-909.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-292 rewrote the section which had read:

“(a) If the applicable assets of the estate are insufficient to pay all claims in full, the personal representative shall make payment in the following order:

“(1) funeral expenses, not exceeding $1,500;

“(2) family allowance, not exceeding $10,000;

“(3) claims for rent in arrears for which an attachment might be levied by law;

“(4) judgments and decrees of courts in the District of Columbia; and

“(5) all other just claims.

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

Editor's Notes

Application of Law 10-241: See Application of Law 10-241 and Emergency act amendment notes to § 20-905.

For applicability of Law 13-292, see notes following § 20-351.


§ 20–907. Funeral expenses.

Where an estate is solvent and the will expressly empowers a personal representative to pay funeral expenses in an amount left to the personal representative’s discretion, then no allowance from the Court shall be required. In all other cases, the Court may allow, in its discretion, funeral expenses of the decedent in excess of $1,500 according to the condition and circumstances of the decedent, but in no event shall such allowance exceed $5,000. However, the funeral expenses limit for a solvent estate may be waived if the waiver is in writing, signed by all heirs or legatees, and filed with the Register.


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155; Mar. 21, 1995, D.C. Law 10-241, § 3(hhh), 42 DCR 63.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-907.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 20-741.

Editor's Notes

Application of Law 10-241: See Application of Law 10-241 and Emergency act amendment notes to § 20-905.


§ 20–908. Action on claims; remedy for failure to act.

(a) For claims presented as provided in section 20-905 within the time limit prescribed by section 20-903, the personal representative shall mail a notice to each claimant stating (1) that the claim has been allowed in a stated amount; (2) that the claim has been disallowed in whole or in part and advising the claimant of the procedures and time limitations for contesting such disallowance; or (3) that the personal representative will petition the Court to determine whether the claim should be allowed. In allowing a claim, the personal representative may deduct any counterclaim that the estate has against the claimant. If the personal representative notifies a claimant of allowance of a claim, the personal representative may rescind the allowance only within 6 months after the date of the first publication of notice of the appointment of a personal representative, but, in such case the personal representative shall notify the claimant of the extent of the recision. If the claim is disallowed in whole or in part, the claim is forever barred to the extent of the disallowance unless the claimant files a verified complaint in the Court, not later than 60 days after the mailing of the notice disallowing the claim.

(b) If no action is taken by the personal representative under subsection (a) of this section, the claimant may file a verified complaint in the Court.

(c) Failure of a personal representative to respond to a presented claim shall in no way suspend the operation of any statute of limitation.


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155; Mar. 24, 1998, D.C. Law 12-81, § 13(f), 45 DCR 745.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-908.


§ 20–909. Payment of claim.

(a) No later than 8 months from the date of the first publication of notice of the appointment of a personal representative, the personal representative shall, unless the Court extends the time for good cause shown, proceed to pay the claims allowed against the estate in the order of priority prescribed in section 20-906. Any person with a valid unbarred claim or with a valid unbarred judgment who has not been paid within the 8 month period may petition the Court for an order directing the personal representative to pay the claim to the extent that funds of the estate are available for such payment. If the Court extends the time for the personal representative to pay a claim under this subsection, the statutory limit for filing a suit on the claim shall be suspended during the extension of time plus 60 days.

(b) The personal representative may, at any time, pay any just claim which has not been barred, with or without formal presentation, but the personal representative is personally liable to any other claimant whose claim is allowed and who is injured by such payment if:

(1) the payment was made before the expiration of 6 months from the date of the first publication of notice of the personal representative’s appointment and the personal representative failed to require the payee to give adequate security to refund any of the payment necessary to pay other claimants; or

(2) the payment was made due to the negligence or willful fault of the personal representative.


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155; Mar. 21, 1995, D.C. Law 10-241, § 3(iii), 42 DCR 63.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-909.

Editor's Notes

Application of Law 10-241: See Application of Law 10-241 and Emergency act amendment notes to § 20-905.


§ 20–910. Meeting of creditors.

A personal representative may convene, on a day designated by the Court, a meeting of all creditors whose claims have been duly presented pursuant to section 20-905 . The personal representative shall give written notice to all such creditors of the time, date, place and purpose of the meeting which shall be held not less than 10 days from the date of the notice. The Court shall deny or approve any claim in whole or in part at the meeting. The payment of any claim as approved by Court order shall hold harmless the personal representative acting in obedience to it, subject to any perfected appeal.


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-910.


§ 20–911. Claim not yet due.

(a) If an unsecured claim which has been proven and which will become due at a future time or a contingent or unliquidated claim becomes due or certain before the distribution of the estate, and if the claim has been allowed or established by a proceeding, it is paid in the same manner as presently due and absolute claims of the same class.

(b) In other cases, the personal representative or, on petition of the personal representative or the claimant in a special proceeding for that purpose, the Court, may provide for payment of a proven unsecured claim as follows:

(1) if the claimant consents, the claimant may be paid the present value of the claim, taking any uncertainty into account, provided that such present value is determined by arbitration, compromise, or agreement between the claimant and the personal representative; and

(2) arrangement for future payment, or possible payment, on the happening of the contingency or on liquidation may be made by creating a trust, creating an escrow account, giving a mortgage, obtaining a bond or security from a distributee, or otherwise.

(c) A creditor who holds security for an allowable claim due at some future time may rely on such security under section 20-912 or may file the claim as an unsecured claim not yet due, with the right of withdrawing the claim prior to the taking of any action thereon, and, after such withdrawal, rely on such security rights as provided in section 20-912.


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155; Mar. 21, 1995, D.C. Law 10-241, § 3(jjj), 42 DCR 63; Apr. 9, 1997, D.C. Law 11-255, § 19(k), 44 DCR 1271.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-911.

Editor's Notes

Application of Law 10-241: See Application of Law 10-241 and Emergency act amendment notes to § 20-905.


§ 20–912. Secured claim.

(a) A creditor having a secured claim who surrenders the security shall be paid on the basis of the full amount of the claim.

(b) A creditor having a secured claim who does not surrender the security shall be paid on the basis of one of the following:

(1) the full amount of the claim allowed less the amount realized upon exhausting the security, if the creditor, during the course of administration, exhausted the security before receiving payment; or

(2) the full amount of the claim allowed, less the value of the security determined by agreement or by the Court, if the creditor did not exhaust, or did not at the time have the right to exhaust, such security.


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-912.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 20-911.


§ 20–913. Contingent claim. [Repealed]

Repealed.


(Mar. 21, 1995, D.C. Law 10-241, § 3, 42 DCR 63.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-913.

Editor's Notes

Application of Law 10-241: See Application of Law 10-241 and Emergency act amendment notes to § 20-905.


§ 20–914. Execution and levy prohibited.

No execution shall issue upon nor shall any levy be made against any property of the estate under any judgment against a decedent or a personal representative. No claim (which is not by its terms secured) shall attach to any particular estate asset, real or personal, whether in the hands of the personal representative or of any bona fide purchaser, or to the proceeds from the sale of any such asset. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to prevent the enforcement of mortgages, deeds of trust, pledges, liens, or other security interests upon property in an appropriate proceeding.


(June 24, 1980, D.C. Law 3-72, § 101, 27 DCR 2155; Mar. 21, 1995, D.C. Law 10-241, § 3(lll), 42 DCR 63.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 20-914.

Editor's Notes

Application of Law 10-241: See Application of Law 10-241 and Emergency act amendment notes to § 20-905.