Trusts and Estates

Estate of Casserley

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Cite as D072298
Filed April 27, 2018, Fourth District, Div. One

By Daniel C. Kim
Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin Law Corporation

Decedent Norman Casserley and Paul Blazevich were neighbors. In 1997, Decedent was convicted of a crime and ordered to pay Blazevich restitution. Ten years later, Blazevich recorded the order and then obtained an amended order which increased the restitution award. In 2008, Blazevich executed and recorded an assignment of the original (but not the amended) order to his wife Emerita Cruz Joya. The amended order was not recorded until after Casserley’s death in 2015. Casserley died intestate, and the estate’s only asset was a modest house, which the administrator sold. The estate was insufficient to pay all claims. Joya filed a creditor’s claim based on the initial order, which was allowed and paid, and an amended claim based on the amended order, which the administrator denied. Joya objected to the administrator’s final accounting, arguing that the post-death recordation of the amended order created a lien on all probate assets. She also argued that, under the Constitution’s restitution provision, her claim to payment of restitution was entitled to priority over other creditors’ claims filed by the state and county. The trial court rejected both arguments.

The appellate court affirmed both rulings. The recordation of an abstract of judgment after the debtor’s death does not create a lien on the debtor’s estate property and, therefore, the recordation of the amended order did not create a lien on estate assets because it was recorded after Casserley’s death. Second, the appellate court evaluated the legislative history of the Constitution’s restitution provision and pertinent statutory schemes and found that the administrator’s sale of the decedent’s house did not constitute “collection of money” for purposes of the Constitution’s restitution provision. Therefore, Joya’s claim did not have priority over other claims.

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