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

What happens when a person who has a claim on an estate is time-barred due to the statute of limitations provided on Probate Code section 9353? Are there any other avenues to pursue that person's claims? Depending on your particular case, there just might be. In Allen v. Stoddard (January 9, 2013, Court of Appeal of the State of California, Fourth Appellate District, Case No. G046460), the plaintiff, Richard Allen, was in such a quandary.

Richard Allen (plaintiff and appellant) was in a stable, long-term committed relationship with James Humpert. During their relationship, James promised Richard that he "would be taken care of" should anything happen to him (James). Richard and James never got married during that period in 2008 when same-sex partners were allowed to marry and neither did they register as domestic partners. On October 29, 2010, James died without a will or other binding declaration.

James' sister, Edith Marlynne Stoddard (defendant and respondent) was named as the administrator of James' estate. In April 2011, Richard filed a creditor's claim against James' estate based on his "would be taken care of" promise. On May 19, 2011, the estate sent a formal notice of rejection of Richard's claim.

Allen filed an action exactly 91 days from the date that the formal notice of rejection was sent. Edith, successfully demurred to the complaint based on it being untimely under section 9353, subdivision (a)(1), which only allows 90 days to file a suit after notice of rejection of the claim by the estate. The trail court dismissed the suit in favor of the estate. Richard filed a timely appeal.

Stay tuned for more on this topic on subsequent blog.

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

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