In re Estate of Van Der Zee – 11/15/2011

November 21, 2011

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds That Probate Code Bars Complaint Not Filed Within Sixty Days of Notice of Disallowance of Claim, Despite That Two Year Statutory Period to Assert Claim Has Not Lapsed.

The Arizona probate court appointed a woman as Personal Representative of her deceased mother’s estate.  Claimant presented a written claim to Personal Representative, which she denied.  More than five months later, Claimant filed a complaint asserting that Personal Representative had wrongly denied the claim.  Following trial, the court ruled that the claim was time-barred because it was not filed within 60 days of the notice of disallowance.  Claimant appealed.

The Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed.  Arizona statutes provide for two methods of presenting a claim:  (i) submit a written statement of the claim to the personal representative, or (ii) commence a court proceeding against the personal representative for payment of the claim.  A.R.S. § 14-3804(1), (2).  If a claim is presented by written statement, the claimant may not commence a proceeding thereon more than 60 days after the personal representative mails a notice of disallowance of the claim.  A.R.S. §§ 14-3804(3), -3806(A).  Despite that Claimant had two years under A.R.S. § 14-3803(A)(1) to present his claim to Personal Representative, once he did present the claim and it was denied, he was required to file any action to challenge the denial within 60 days.

Judge Irvine authored the opinion; Presiding Judge Timmer and Judge Barker concurred.