In In Re Estate of Gates, a March 31, 2022 opinion, the Ohio appellate court distinguished between the deadline for an executor or administrator to present a claim to the probate court, and the deadline for a general creditor to present a claim.
The Facts of In Re Estate of Gates
Annie Gates died intestate on September 14, 2020. The decedent was survived by her two daughters, appellant Carlesia Gates and Calandra Gates.
Carlesia was appointed as the administrator of decedent’s estate on August 3, 2021.
On September 13, 2021 Carlesia filed an application for allowance of claim against the estate in the amount of $35, 010 pursuant to R.C. 2117.02. She sought reimbursement for repairs, improvements, and maintenance to the decedent’s property. Three days later, on September 16, 2021, the Ohio probate court denied the application for allowance of claim, finding that the application was untimely filed pursuant to R.C. 2117.06(B).
Carlesia appealed the denial of her application for allowance of claim.
When Must an Executor or Administrator Present a Claim To the Ohio Probate Court?
An Ohio executor or administrator has three months after the date of appointment to present any claim against the estate to the probate court.
R.C. 2117.02 governs presentation of claim to probate court and states in pertinent part:
An executor or administrator within three months after the date of appointment shall present any claim the executor or administrator has against the estate to the probate court for allowance.
When Must a Creditor Present a Claim To the Ohio Probate Court?
A general creditor (not an administrator or executor) must present a claim within six months after death.
R.C. 2117.06 governs procedure for the presentation and allowance of creditor’s claims. Subsection (B) states in pertinent part:
Except as provided in section 2117.061 of the Revised Code, all claims shall be presented within six months after the death of the decedent, whether or not the estate is released from administration or an executor or administrator is appointed during that six-month period.” (Emphasis added to reflect the trial court’s emphasis on this language).
An Ohio Executor Or Administrator Has Three Months From Appointment To Present a Claim
In its September 16, 2021 judgment entry, the Ohio probate court found the application for allowance of claim to be untimely as it was filed almost a year after the decedent’s death.
Appellant argued that the probate court ignored the clear statutory distinction between claims belonging to executors and administrators and claims belonging to other creditors. Appellant argued that because she is the administrator of the Ohio estate, she had three months after the date of her appointment to present her application for allowance of claim against the estate. Because she presented her application some forty-one days after her appointment, her claim was timely filed.
The Ohio appellate court agreed that claim was timely filed, citing to Estate of Curc, where the court reasoned:
R.C 2117.02 governs claims by executors and administrators; R.C. 2117.06 governs claims by creditors. These are two specific groups of people and thus each are specific to a particular class of individuals. To be sure, the former is a more narrow class than the latter, but they are nevertheless two specific groups. Appellant, in this case, filed his claims as an executor and, as such, he fits within the narrow class of individuals enumerated under R.C. 2117.02.
We recognize that R.C. 2117.06 governs “all claims” and “all parties,” without regard to who the creditor is or the nature of that creditor’s claim. Still, the “all claims” and “all parties” provisions specifically fall under the rubric of a statute specifically designated to apply to “creditors.” Were we to read these universal pronouncements to include executors and administrators, R.C. 2117.02 would be rendered inconsequential. Observing the plain language of the statutes, “[i]t is clear * * * that the legislature recognized that a claim by an executor against the estate he represents must be processed differently from those of other creditors.” Wilhoit v. Estate of Powell, 70 Ohio App.2d 61, 62, 434 N.E.2d 742 (12th Dist.1980). Given this difference, the fact that a party is a creditor of a decedent upon his or her death, does not negate the effect and import of R.C. 2117.02 if an estate is open and that former creditor is appointed executor and his or her claims are properly leveled against the estate. Upon such appointment, R.C. 2117.02 vouchsafes additional privileges to a party appointed executor; privileges that may have been long extinguished to an ordinary creditor by operation of R.C. 2117.06.
Therefore, in this case, the administrator had three months after her appointment to file her application for any claims against the Ohio estate. Because appellant presented her application within the applicable three month period, it was timely filed under Ohio law. The Ohio probate court was reversed, and the matter remanded for the court to conduct a hearing on appellant’s application for allowance of claim against the estate in her role as administrator, consistent with the language of R.C. 2117.02.