A man died before he was able to pay water heater installation costs. How can I collect this money?

Question: Regarding collecting from an estate, a furnace was installed at the dead guy's place in Van Buren County, Michigan, he died before he paid for it, the family says he has a trust the county where he died says there is no trust on file and I cannot find out who is in charge of paying off the creditor's that his estate owes money to. What is the best way to proceed and is it expensive? The heater goes for about $900 and there is about $900 in labor. Please email me with your answer and I will make the decision of what to do from the options that you present. Thanks.

Answer: You have yourself quite a predicament. If I understand correctly, no one from the family will acknowledge that you are owed the money and will agree to pay you. If you sense they are trying to cheat you out of your money, I have the following recommendations. First and best option is to file a Construction (mechanics) Lien against the home if it is still within 90 days of you performing the service. The Construction Lien is valid for one year. If and when they sell the house, you will be paid out of the closing proceeds. Generally, if and when the home is sold, the title company closing on the home would also insist that the Lien be paid. The Lien is a document recorded in the Van Buren County property records based on your right to payment. I have not had a title company fail to pay off a Vendor's Lien at a closing yet, I only note that there is a possibility it could be challenged because it is not based upon statute. If you wish, we can help you with the Construction Lien for or normal fee There would be recording fees also due. We would need to have a copy of the legal description of the property and the name of the owner of record. You can get this from the Land Description Office and Register of Deeds in Van Buren county. Very truly yours, Klute Miller Johnson PLC

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