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Your claim does not die with the death of your friend. Rather, your claim simply transfers to his estate. You want to make a claim against your friend's estate. Before any probate assets can be distributed to the decedent's heirs, the decedent's debts must be paid. If not, you pursue the estate's executor and the beneficiaries/heirs (to the extent of any assets distributed to them) for the payment of your debt. If the executor does not pay you from the assets, file suit against the estate. Filing the suit will give you the collection options and leverage you need to collect the debt owed you. That's because once the suit is filed and a judgment awarded, you become a judgment creditor, and if the estate doesn’t then pay the judgment, you can have the sheriff serve a summons on the executor for a debtor examination. That forces the executor to meet you in court again and answer questions under oath about the estate assets. After that information is obtained, you have the power to attach estate assets to satisfy the judgment.
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