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Water Tower Nursing and Home Care, Inc v. Estate of Frederic A. Weil

March 29, 2013

WATER TOWER NURSING AND HOME CARE, INC.,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ESTATE OF FREDERIC A. WEIL,
DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 11 P 005862 Honorable Mary Ellen Coghlan, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Gordon

JUSTICE GORDON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Lampkin and Justice Hall concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 In the case at bar, respondent Estate of Frederick A. Weil (the estate) moved to dismiss a claim made against the estate by Water Tower Nursing and Home Care, Inc. (Water Tower), on the ground that the claim was untimely filed. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the claim. For the following reasons, we affirm.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 For the purposes of this appeal, we will accept as true the facts as alleged by the appellant in its brief to this court. Even if we assume arguendo that all these facts are true, we must still affirm the trial court's dismissal of the appellant's claim.

¶ 4 Water Tower provided home health care services to Frederick A. Weil from June 19, 2011, until his death on September 18, 2011. A probate estate was opened on October 17, 2011, with Marion R. Weil as its executor and representative. On October 26, 2011, a letter was sent by the estate to Water Tower, as a known creditor, stating that any claims that it had "must be filed" by April 21, 2012, and "any claims not filed with the Cook County Probate Court on or before that claims expiration date will be barred."

¶ 5 The letter further stated: "You should consider this letter as the Executor's denial of any claims you timely file against the decedent's estate unless your claim is approved by the Cook County Probate Court in Case No. 2011 P 005862, or you receive the Executor's or our firm's written approval of your timely filed court claim."

¶ 6 On Saturday, April 21, 2012, which was the claims expiration date specified in the representative's letter, Water Tower mailed a copy of its claim to the circuit court, to the representative and to the representative's attorney.

¶ 7 The estate moved to dismiss Water Tower's claim, and on August 6, 2012, the trial court dismissed its claim as untimely. Water Tower filed a notice of appeal on September 4, 2012, and this appeal followed.

¶ 8 ANALYSIS

¶ 9 The sole question before this court is whether the claimant's filing was untimely. The determination of a filing date is purely a question of law (Tolve v. Ogden Chrysler Plymouth, 324 Ill. App. 3d 485, 492 (2001)), and so is the interpretation of a statute (In re Estate of Parker, 2011 IL App (1st) 102871, ¶ 51. Thus, both will be subject to de novo review. In re Estate of Parker, 2011 IL App (1st) 102871, ¶ 51); Tolve, 324 Ill. App. 3d at 492.

¶ 10 Water Tower argues that its claim was timely because it had the option of filing its claim with the representative, and that there was no other way of filing a claim with the representative except by mailing, which it did within the time set forth in the notice.

ΒΆ 11 In support of its argument that it had the option of filing with the representative instead of the court, Water Tower cites section 18-1 of the Probate Act (the Act), which provides that "[a] claim against the estate of a decedent *** may be filed with the ...


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