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Claims Against Estates Must be Made with Great Care

Under Ohio law, any creditor claim against the estate of a deceased person must be presented “in writing” within six months of the person’s death.  A recent Ohio Supreme Court case,  Wilson v. Lawrence, Slip Opinion No. 2017-Ohio-1410, is very strict in terms of how a creditor is to present its claim and comply with the law.  In the Wilson case, a creditor was owed $200,000 by the deceased person.  The creditor sent a written claim to the decedent’s personal secretary and the trustee of the decedent’s trust.  In the claim the salutation read “to the heirs, administrators or executors of the Estate of . . . .”  This claim letter was then actually forwarded to the estate’s executor within the six-month time period.  Still, the Supreme Court invalidated the $200,000 claim and ruled that delivery of the claim to a person not appointed by the probate court who gives it to the executor “fails to present a claim against the estate.”  Consequently, even though the executor actually received the $200,000 claim before the six-month deadline, the court still denied the claim.
Bottom line — if you have a claim against a person who dies, be very careful to send your written claim directly to the actual “executor or administrator” of the decedent’s estate or your claim may very well be denied.
If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to contact Dana Rose or your Weston Hurd attorney.


Dana A. Rose