Part II: Section 366.3's Time Limit Controls Claims on Promises to Make a Distribution from the Estate

As continued from our previous blog, Richard Allen (Allen v. Stoddard) filed a timely appeal. On appeal, the Court noted that the entire battle at the trial level was the application of Probate Code section 9353, and that Code of Civil Procedure section 366.3 was never raised. However, section 366.3 is the sole issue on appeal.

Section 366.3 gives persons who have claims arising from a promise or agreement with a decedent to distribution from an estate or trust under another instrument, whether the promise or agreement was made orally or in writing, a full year from the date of decedent's death to file suit. The Court then confronted the issue of whether section 9353 conflicts with section 366.3. The Court concluded that section 366.3 does not conflict with the sections of the Probate Code governing claims against estates, except for the statute of limitations for filing a suit. Section 366.3 gives a claimant one year after the decedent's death to file a suit, whereas, section 9353 only allows 90 days after rejection of the claim by the estate to file a suit. Considering the well-established rule where conflicting statutes cannot be reconciled, it is the specific and later statute that takes precedence over older and more general ones. Accordingly, the Court decreed that section 366.6's time limit controls and therefore, Allen's suit is still within the prescribed time limit. The trial court's judgment was therefore reversed.

*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.

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