Creditor Claims must be properly Presented

June 29, 2021

Stafford Law Co., L.P.A. v. Estate of Coleman, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 109377,  2021-Ohio-1097

An attorney who had, prior to death, provided legal services to a decedent during her lifetime was denied reimbursement from the estate because he notified the attorney of the Estate rather than the Executor individually. Notice of a claim directed to the attorney of the Estate does not rise to the level necessary to establish a claim. 

An attorney, who was owed a debt amounting to $41,678.01 plus 18 percent interest by a decedent, filed the required notice of the claim with the probate court within the appropriate six months time frame after the decedent’s death BUT only certified service of the notice of the claim directly to the attorney of the Executor at the attorney’s address.  The Executor, subsequently, rejected the claim saying it was not properly presented to him as fiduciary and that service on his attorney (i.e. his agent), was not sufficient service under ORC 2117.06.

Ultimately, the court of appeals had to distinguish between Wilson v. Lawrence, 150 Ohio St.3d 368, 2017-Ohio1410, 81 N.E.3d 1242 (hereinafter "Wilson") and Hatfield v.
Heggie, 6th Dist. Ottawa No. OT-19-023, 2020-Ohio-1156 (hereinafter "Hatfield").  In Wilson the court found that a claim against an estate must be timely presented in writing to the executor or administrator of the estate, and “delivery of the claim to a person not appointed by the probate court who gives it to the executor or administrator fails to present a claim against the estate.” Id. at ¶ 22. In Hatfield the Sixth District Court of Appeals found that a claim which was given to the attorney for the estate satisfied the presentment requirements of R.C. 2117.06(A)(1)(a) because it was presented to the executor’s attorney.  Here the Supreme Court of Ohio trumps the Sixth District and this Court held that Because the claim in this case was not presented to the executor of the Estate in accordance with the strict requirements of R.C. 2117.06(A) it was not properly presented.