Almost without exception, there is a strict one year statute of limitations for bringing a claim against an estate which starts to run from the date of the death of the debtor regardless of whether you know about it. See, California Code of Civil Procedure Section 366.2. A short limitations period, while seen as beneficial to promote the prompt settlement of estates, can wreak havoc for a judgment creditor. Death alone does not render a debt uncollectible. It just means you need a competent creditor attorney in Los Angeles to navigate the probate process.
California is one of the few states that allows for renewal of a money judgment every ten years without any deadline on the number of renewals. One may say that as a California collection attorney, we actually grow old with the judgment debtors. Most lawyers fail to advise their judgment creditor clients that in the 1st 10 years period after the judgment was entered, they should renew the judgment after 5 years. This is a one time opportunity to effectively "compound the interest.