The United States Supreme Court's decision in Tulsa Professional Collection Services, Inc. v. Pope caused the usually staid legal enclave of estate administration to sit alert. The Court declared unconstitutional an Oklahoma statute that barred creditors of decedents from filing claims against the decedents' estates two months after published notice of the commencement of probate proceedings. The statute violated the due process rights of known and reasonably ascertainable creditors because it did not require a better form of notice to them. In failing to require actual notice to known creditors, the statute was not drastically atypical of other statutes regulating creditors' claims against the estates of deceased debtors. Therefore, it was not surprising that many legislatures, bar association committees, and scholars attempted to assess the effect of Pope on statutes in states other than Oklahoma. This article is a continuation of the dialogue on the impact of Pope, but it sounds a contrary note by arguing, first (and rather modestly), that the decision does not necessarily apply across the board because a number of statutory regimes, illustrated most prominently by the Uniform Probate Code, do not have the degree of “state action” that marked the Oklahoma statutory regime in Pope. Second (and more boldly), the article argues that the majority opinion in Pope erred in its application of constitutional due process principles to nonclaim statutes that cut off the creditors of decedents' estates.
Estate Creditors, the Constitution, and the Uniform Probate Code
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/623