Sometimes you just scratch your head when a trial court makes a ruling that you cannot make sense of. In our case, the probate court ruled that the statute of limitations did not apply to a personal representative because she failed to send herself written notice as a known creditor. Yes, the court ruled that the personal representative’s mistake protected her from the statute of limitations. This can only be called an absurd probate result.
Absurd Probate Result: Creditors
After serving as the personal representative for over one year and after the creditor publication period had long expired, the personal representative claimed $1.5 million was due to her as a creditor of the estate for attendant care she had provided to the decedent over a 15-year period. The probate court awarded her the claim.
Absurd Probate Result: Court of Appeals
In January, the Michigan Court of Appeals, in a published opinion, overturned the ruling. The Court, in In Re Schwein, ruled that the personal representative is not required “to perform the nonsensical task of mailing or personally serving herself a copy of the notice…or allow a personal representative to benefit from her nonfeasance in not serving notice upon herself.”
The Court of Appeals got this one right when it held “statutes should be construed to avoid absurd results.” The Probate Pro was successful in maximizing the recovery for its client and eliminating a baseless claim for a personal representative.