Code of the District of Columbia

§ 19–601.02. Liability of nonprobate transferees for creditor claims and statutory allowances.

(a) For the purposes of this section, the term “nonprobate transfer” means a valid transfer effective at death, other than a transfer of a survivorship interest in a joint tenancy of real estate, by a transferor whose last domicile was in the District to the extent that the transferor immediately before death had power, acting alone, to prevent the transfer by revocation or withdrawal and instead to use the property for the benefit of the transferor or apply it to discharge claims against the transferor’s probate estate.

(b) Except as otherwise provided by statute, a transferee of a nonprobate transfer is subject to liability to any probate estate of the decedent for allowed claims against decedent’s probate for estate and statutory allowances to the decedent’s spouse and children to the extent the estate is insufficient to satisfy those claims and allowances. The liability of a nonprobate transferee may not exceed the value of nonprobate transfers received or controlled by that transferee.

(c) Nonprobate transferees are liable for the insufficiency described in subsection (b) of this section in the following order of priority:

(1) A transferee designated in the decedent’s will or any other governing instrument, as provided in the instrument;

(2) The trustee of a trust serving as the principal nonprobate instrument in the decedent’s estate plan as shown by its designation as devisee of the decedent’s residuary estate or by other facts or circumstances, to the extent of the value of the nonprobate transfer received or controlled; and

(3) Other nonprobate transferees, in proportion to the values received.

(d) Unless otherwise provided by the trust instrument, interests of beneficiaries in all trusts incurring liabilities under this section abate as necessary to satisfy the liability, as if all of the trust instruments were a single will and the interests were devises under it.

(e) A provision made in one instrument may direct the apportionment of the liability among the nonprobate transferees taking under that or any other governing instrument. If a provision in one instrument conflicts with a provision in another, the later one prevails.

(f) Upon due notice to a nonprobate transferee, the liability imposed by this section is enforceable in proceedings in the District, whether or not the transferee is located in the District.

(g) A proceeding under this section may not be commenced unless the personal representative of the decedent’s estate has received a written demand for the proceeding from the surviving spouse or a child, to the extent that statutory allowances are affected, or a creditor. If the personal representative declines or fails to commence a proceeding after the demand, a person making the demand may commence the proceeding in the name of the decedent’s estate, at the expense of the person making the demand and not of the estate. A personal representative who declines in good faith to commence a requested proceeding incurs no personal liability for declining.

(h) A proceeding under this section must be commenced within one year after the decedent’s death, but a proceeding on behalf of a creditor whose claim was allowed after proceedings challenging disallowance of the claim may be commenced within 60 days after final allowance of the claim.

(i) Unless a written notice asserting that a decedent’s probate estate is nonexistent or insufficient to pay allowed claims and statutory allowances has been received from the decedent’s personal representative, the following rules apply:

(1) Payment or delivery of assets by a financial institution, registrar, or other obligor, to a nonprobate transferee in accordance with the terms of the governing instrument controlling the transfer releases the obligor from all claims for amounts paid or assets delivered.

(2) A trustee receiving or controlling a nonprobate transfer is released from liability under this section with respect to any assets distributed to the trust’s beneficiaries. Each beneficiary, to the extent of the distribution received, becomes liable for the amount of the trustee’s liability attributable to assets received by the beneficiary.


(Mar. 19, 2013, D.C. Law 19-230, § 3(c)(2), 59 DCR 13606.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 19-604.15.