Trusts and Estates
Ca. Trs. & Estates Quarterly Volume 10, Issue 2, Summer 2004
ALICE IN TULSA-LAND: THE DOBLER EFFECT ON CREDITORS OF REVOCABLE TRUSTS
By John A. Hartog* & Bart Schenone**
The California Probate Code appears to establish a straightforward method for a creditor of a California decedent to protect its interest. Typical of other subject matters covered by the Probate Code, however, first impressions can be deceiving. The application of the Probate Code procedure is subject to federal constitutional considerations.1 The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that as a matter of due process creditors must be informed of probate proceedings "by mail or other means as certain to ensure actual notice."2 Tulsa Professional Collection Services v. Pope ("Tulsa") holds further that a creditor is "entitled to notice" when the creditor is "reasonably ascertainable."3
Implementation of this rule can be accomplished with comparative success when the decedent’s assets are subject to administration under Division 7 of the Probate Code, i.e. a "probate." A probate, however, may contain its own traps for the unwary creditor, as will be examined later.