Does a New York Estate Have to Pay Child Support?

Connection between parent and child due to child support

Collecting Child Support Arrearages from a Deceased Non-custodial Parent’s Estate

If you are concerned about what happens to the child support payments you have been receiving from a non-custodial parent after the death of the non-custodial parent, you should be aware that such payments cease immediately. However, you still may be able to collect any child support arrearages owed to you by filing a creditor’s claim against the decedent’s New York estate within the prescribed statutory period.

In order to find out whether the deceased parent made any financial provisions for your minor children, it is recommended that the custodial parent write to or call the executor or personal representative of the deceased parent’s New York estate immediately after the decedent’s death. If you do not know who the personal representative is, you may want to contact another family member of the decedent to find out the information or check the newspaper to see if a notice has been published containing any information about who to contact on behalf of the decedent’s estate. A New York family law attorney can also be of assistance in contacting the executor and obtaining information about the decedent’s will from the Surrogate’s Court or from the executor if the executor has not responded to your requests.

Often there may be a will, trust established on behalf of the children and/or a life insurance policy entitling the children to inherit certain of the decedent’s assets. The minor children may also be entitled to social security death benefit payments if the deceased parent was employed. The custodial parent should inquire with the social security office to determine if the children are eligible for such payments.

Rights to Collect Child Support Arrearages from Deceased Parents Estate

If the deceased parent owed the custodial parent any arrearages, the custodial parent can file a creditor’s claim against the estate for the arrearages within the prescribed statutory period. If the custodial parent fails to file the claim in a timely manner, the custodial parent is barred from collecting the money. The custodial parent may wish to exercise this right, especially if the deceased parent did not have a will, trust or any life insurance policy. Any support arrearages collected by the custodial parent must be paid directly to the custodial parent out of the assets of the estate, providing there are sufficient assets.  If there are insufficient assets to pay creditor’s claims, the claim amount could be reduced or the custodial parent may not receive any payment at all. The other beneficiaries/heirs of the decedent are not responsible for personally paying any debts owed by the decedent.

Certain assets are exempt from collection by creditors such as homestead property, assets under a 401 (k), life insurance policies that name a beneficiary other than the decedent’s child and assets placed in a trust which name a beneficiary other than the decedent’s child. These assets cannot be seized by any creditor including the surviving parent/creditor.

Statute of Limitations on Default Child Support PaymentsThere is a 20 year statute of limitations on collecting child support arrearages for judgments entered after August 7, 1987. The time period runs from the date of the default payment. The statute of limitations applies to any arrearages that are entered as money judgments as well.
For judgments entered prior to August 7, 1987, the statute of limitations is 6 years from the date of default.  Before making a claim against the estate for such arrearages, you should establish the date of default to make sure you have a valid claim.