What to Do If Guarantor Dies


Q: The guarantor of a lease I signed with a new tenant is very old, so the lease includes language requiring the tenant to notify me of any change in the status of the guaranty, including the guarantor’s death. If the tenant violates the lease either just before or soon after the guarantor’s death, can I still pursue my rights under the guaranty?

A: Yes, but you will have to do so in probate court—that is, the court that handles the distribution of the deceased’s estate. Most guaranties have standard language that entitles the owner to collect from the guarantor’s estate if the tenant defaults. But you must act quickly. If you don’t and the guarantor’s estate is completely distributed, you won’t get anything. Also, collecting from the guarantor’s estate—even immediately after his death—can be a complicated and lengthy process, which is why it may be a good idea to go to a probate attorney who is experienced in these matters.