Allegations of sexual abuse concerning Appellant’s minor children were made against Decedent in 2006. Decedent died in 2009, but his estate did not notify Appellant or the children that the estate was opened, despite knowledge of the allegations. Eight months after first publication of notice of the estate, Appellant filed claims against the estate under Section 473.360. He then amended his claim as the six-month window under 473.360 had passed and filed within the one-year limitation in Section 473.444.
Gentry County Circuit Court, Dietrich, J., Held:
The Court sustained the Estate’s motion to dismiss due to the six-month statute for “known or reasonable ascertainable creditors.” Appellant appealed.
Supreme Court, Russell, J., Held:
Reversed and Remanded. While a personal representative to an estate is not required to take extraordinary steps to locate creditors, she must make “reasonably diligent efforts” to identify creditors. Here, the personal representative knew the children were potential creditors and had the ability to locate Appellant to give him notice. She interviewed the children’s relatives and did her own investigation of the case, despite the Division of Family Services concluding the claims had merit. However, it was not for the personal representative to reach her own conclusions on the merit of the children’s claims. Instead, the Estate’s failure to give the children actual notice of the opening of Decedent’s estate was a violation of their due process rights as it prevented them from timely filing against the estate.