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Question
I have been asked to find out what the RV storage facility needs to do in this situation.

A surviving spouse is not listed on the RV title or the lease paperwork (Washington State). They have not seen a death certificate or any paperwork showing that she is the executor of the estate. The rented unit is currently past due and they just received bankruptcy paperwork (Chapter 13). Paperwork shows RV will be repossessed by the bank.

Another question that arose, can someone not on the lease pay the rent?

This all leads to the following questions:

  Can they file a claim for past due rent?
  What about the rent that they are not collecting while the bankruptcy is processed? Any way to collect?
  What are the storage facilities rights in this?
  Do they contact the Bankruptcy trustee and ask these questions?
  Basically, how does this whole thing work?

Thank you for your help. I am at a loss as to where to even start with this.

Answer
I would try to find out if the renter who died had any assets that did not go to his wife.  That is, did he have an estate with any assets.  You would be able to file a claim against the estate for the past rent, at least.

If there were assets which went to the wife and she filed bankruptcy, you could at least file a claim on the grounds that some of the assets in her bankruptcy belonged to the renter.  It doesn't sound as though the wife or the bankruptcy estate would be liable directly since she was not a party to the lease.  The good news is that the lease was terminated with the death of the renter and the bankruptcy, being that of the wife (I assume this from your description) it should not affect the storage unit's right

On the other hand, if the wife is the only one in the Chapter 13 and the RV unit received a notice, then someone must assume that the rent unit is involved in the bankruptcy.  If that is so, then the unit may be able to file a claim for past rent and ongoing rent (until RV is repossessed.)

They should probably call the Bankruptcy trustee and try to get more information.  But to be on the safe side, file a claim in the Chapter 13, assuming that payments will be made to unsecured creditors.  If no distributions are going to be made, though, it would be hardly worth it to go to the trouble to file a claim.

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Michael T. Hertz

Expertise

I can answer most questions concerning bankruptcy, whether business or personal, including questions by debtors, creditors, persons interested in purchasing assets from bankruptcy estates, and the like. Also have expertise in tort law, French and Canadian law.

Experience

Practiced bankruptcy for 27 years in California and taught bankruptcy for three years in Maine. This included Chapters 7, 9, 11, 12 and 13 cases, representing debtors, creditors (secured and unsecured), bankruptcy trustees, creditors committees, and persons interested in purchasing assets from bankruptcies. Debtors included persons with virtually no money up to large corporations.

Organizations
Inactive member of the Bar of the State of California. Nonpracticing member of the Bar of Massachusetts. Formerly member of the Maine Bar and conseil juridique in France. Certified by National Committee on Accreditation in Canada.

Publications
Georgetown Law Review; California Bankruptcy Journal; Maine Law Review; Dalhousie Law Journal; University of Toronto Law Journal.

Education/Credentials
Harvard Law School (J.D. 1970; cum laude) and Pomona College (B.A., 1967; cum laude)

Awards and Honors
Selected as a "Superlawyer" in 2005 and 2006 for Northern California.

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