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UNITED STATES v. SUMMERLIN

decided: May 27, 1940.

UNITED STATES
v.
SUMMERLIN, ANCILLARY ADMINISTRATRIX



CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA.

Hughes, McReynolds, Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Murphy

Author: Hughes

[ 310 U.S. Page 414]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

By a series of transactions, which it is unnecessary to review, the Federal Housing Administrator, acting on behalf of the United States, became the assignee of a claim against the estate of one J. F. Andrew, deceased.

[ 310 U.S. Page 415]

     Respondent was appointed ancillary administratrix of that estate by the County Judge of Polk County, Florida. Respondent, on August 13, 1937, gave notice by publication to the creditors of the estate to file proof of their claims within eight months as required by the state statute.

The United States filed its claim in the office of the County Judge on July 1, 1938, with a petition asking that the claim be allowed with the priority accorded by the federal statutes (31 U. S. C. 191, 192) and also asserting that the state statute as to the time for filing claims did not apply to claims of the United States. The County Judge denied the petition, holding that the state statute was applicable and further adjudging that the claim of the United States be "disallowed as a claim against the estate" of the decedent.

The United States appealed to the Circuit Court for Polk County, where the order of the County Judge was in all respects affirmed. The judgment explicitly declared the claim of the United States to be "void," because not filed within the time prescribed. An appeal to the Supreme Court of Florida resulted in affirmance of the judgment of the Circuit Court. 140 Fla. 475; 191 So. 842. We granted certiorari because of the importance of the question. 309 U.S. 647.

The statute of Florida (ยง 5541 (92) Compiled General Laws of 1927, Supp.) provides:

"No claim or demand, whether due or not, direct or contingent, liquidated or unliquidated, or claim for personal property in the possession of the personal representative or for damages, shall be valid or binding upon an estate, or upon the personal representative thereof, or upon any heir, legatee, or devisee of the decedent unless the same shall be in writing and contain the place of residence and post office address of the claimant and shall be sworn to by the claimant, his agent or attorney, and be filed in the office of the county judge granting letters.

[ 310 U.S. Page 416]

     Any such claim or demand not so filed within eight months from the time of the first publication of the notice to creditors shall be void even though the personal representative has recognized such claim or demand by paying a portion thereof or interest thereon or otherwise: . . ."

The claim assigned to the Federal Housing Administrator acting on behalf of the United States became the claim of the United States, and the United States thereupon became entitled to enforce it. Act of June 27, 1934, 48 Stat. 1246. Compare Graves v. New York ex rel. O'Keefe, 306 ...


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