Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 5. Simultaneous Deaths; Uniform Law.


§ 19–501. Definitions.

For the purposes of the chapter, the term:

(1) “Co-owners with right of survivorship” includes joint tenants, tenants by the entireties, and other co-owners of property or accounts held under circumstances that entitles one or more to the whole of the property or account on the death of the other or others.

(2) “Governing instrument” means a deed, will, trust, insurance or annuity policy, account with POD designation, pension, profit-sharing, retirement, or similar benefit plan, instrument creating or exercising a power of appointment or a power of attorney, or a dispositive, appointive, or nominative instrument of any similar type.

(3) “Payor” means a trustee, insurer, business entity, employer, government, governmental agency, subdivision, or instrumentality, or any other person authorized or obligated by law or a governing instrument to make payments.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-292, § 202, 48 DCR 2087.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 19-501.

1973 Ed., § 19-501.

Editor's Notes

This section was previously enacted by section 1 of Public Law 89-183, 79 Stat. 700, but repealed by implication by D.C. Law 13-292.

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 1 of the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act (1993 Act).


§ 19–502. Requirement of survival by 120 hours under probate laws.

(a) Except as provided in section 19-506, if the title to property, the devolution of property, the right to elect an interest in property, or the right to exempt property, homestead or family allowance depends upon an individual’s survivorship of the death of another individual, an individual who is not established by clear and convincing evidence to have survived the other individual by 120 hours is deemed to have predeceased the other individual.

(b) This section does not apply if its application would result in a taking of intestate estate by the District of Columbia.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-292, § 202, 48 DCR 2087.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 19-502.

1973 Ed., § 19-502.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 19-604.13.

Editor's Notes

This section was previously enacted by section 1 of Public Law 89-183, 79 Stat. 700, but repealed by implication by D.C. Law 13-292.

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 2 of the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act (1993 Act).


§ 19–503. Requirement of survival by 120 hours under governing instruments.

Except as provided in section 19-506 , for purposes of a provision of a governing instrument that relates to an individual surviving an event, including the death of another individual, an individual who is not established by clear and convincing evidence to have survived the event by 120 hours is deemed to have predeceased the event.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-292, § 202, 48 DCR 2087.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 19-503.

1973 Ed., § 19-503.

Editor's Notes

This section was previously enacted by section 1 of Public Law 89-183, 79 Stat. 700, but repealed by implication by D.C. Law 13-292.

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 3 of the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act (1993 Act).


§ 19–504. Co-owners with right of survivorship; requirement of survival by 120 hours.

Except as provided in section 19-506 :

(1) If it is not established by clear and convincing evidence that one of 2 co-owners with right of survivorship survived the other co-owner by 120 hours, one-half of the property passes as if one had survived by 120 hours and one-half as if the other had survived by 120 hours; and

(2) If there are more than 2 co-owners and it is not established by clear and convincing evidence that at least one of them survived the others by 120 hours, the property passes in the proportion that one bears to the whole number of co-owners.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-292, § 202, 48 DCR 2087.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 19-504.

1973 Ed., § 19-504.

Editor's Notes

This section was previously enacted by section 1 of Public Law 89-183, 79 Stat. 700, but repealed by implication by D.C. Law 13-292.

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 4 of the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act (1993 Act).


§ 19–505. Evidence of death or status.

In addition to the rules of evidence, the following rules relating to a determination of death and status apply:

(1) Death occurs when an individual is determined to be dead under section 7-601.

(2) A certified or authenticated copy of a death certificate purporting to be issued by an official or agency of the place where the death purportedly occurred is prima facie evidence of the fact, place, date, and time of death and the identity of the decedent.

(3) A certified or authenticated copy of any record or report of a governmental agency, domestic or foreign, that an individual is missing, detained, dead, or alive is prima facie evidence of the status and of the dates, circumstances, and places disclosed by the record or report.

(4) In the absence of prima facie evidence of death under paragraph (2) or (3) of this subsection, the fact of death may be established by clear and convincing evidence, including circumstantial evidence.

(5) If an individual is presumed to be dead under section 14-701, the individual’s death is presumed to have occurred at the end of the period unless there is sufficient evidence for determining that death occurred earlier.

(6) In the absence of evidence disputing the time of death stipulated on a document described in paragraph (2) or (3) of this subsection, a document described in paragraph (2) or (3) that stipulates a time of death 120 hours or more after the time of death of another individual, however the time of death of the other individual is determined, establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the individual survived the other individual by 120 hours.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-292, § 202, 48 DCR 2087.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 19-505.

1973 Ed., § 19-505.

Editor's Notes

This section was previously enacted by section 1 of Public Law 89-183, 79 Stat. 700, but repealed by implication by D.C. Law 13-292.

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 5 of the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act (1993 Act).


§ 19–506. Exceptions.

Survival by 120 hours is not required if:

(1) The governing instrument contains language dealing explicitly with simultaneous deaths or deaths in a common disaster and that language is operable under the facts of the case;

(2) The governing instrument expressly indicates that an individual is not required to survive an event, including the death of another individual, by any specified period or expressly requires the individual to survive the event for a specified period, but survival of the event or the specified period must be established by clear and convincing evidence;

(3) The imposition of a 120-hour requirement of survival would cause a nonvested property interest or a power of appointment to fail to qualify for validity under section 19-901(a) (1), (b) (1), or (c) (1) or to become invalid under section 19-901(a) (2), (b) (2), or (c) (2), but survival must be established by clear and convincing evidence; or

(4) The application of a 120-hour requirement of survival to multiple governing instruments would result in an unintended failure or duplication of a disposition, but survival must be established by clear and convincing evidence.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-292, § 202, 48 DCR 2087.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 19-506.

1979 Ed., § 19-506.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 19-502, § 19-503, and § 19-504.

References in Text

“This part,” referred to in subsec. (b), is Division III of the D.C. Official Code, Decedents’ Estates and Fiduciary Relations.

Editor's Notes

This section was previously enacted by section 1 of Public Law 89-183, 79 Stat. 700, but repealed by implication by D.C. Law 13-292.

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 6 of the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act (1993 Act).


§ 19–507. Protection of payors, bona fide purchasers, and other third parties; personal liability of recipient.

(a) A payor or other third party is not liable for having made a payment or transferred an item of property or any other benefit to a person designated in a governing instrument who, under this chapter, is not entitled to the payment or item of property, or for having taken any other action in good faith reliance on the person’s apparent entitlement under the terms of the governing instrument, before the payor or other third party received written notice of a claimed lack of entitlement under this chapter. A payor or other third party is liable for a payment made or other action taken after the payor or other third party received written notice of a claimed lack of entitlement under this chapter.

(b) Written notice of a claimed lack of entitlement under subsection (a) of this section must be mailed to the payor’s or other third party’s main office or home by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, or served upon the payor or other third party in the same manner as a summons in a civil action. Upon receipt of written notice of a claimed lack of entitlement under this chapter, a payor or other third party may pay any amount owed or transfer or deposit any item of property held by it to or with the court having jurisdiction of the probate proceedings relating to the decedent’s estate, or if no proceedings have been commenced, to or with the court having jurisdiction of probate proceedings relating to decedents’ estates located in the county of the decedent’s residence. The court shall hold the funds or item of property and, upon its determination under this chapter, shall order disbursement in accordance with the determination. Payments, transfers, or deposits made to or with the court discharge the payor or other third party from all claims for the value of amounts paid to or items of property transferred to or deposited with the court.

(c) A person who purchases property for value and without notice, or who receives a payment or other item of property in partial or full satisfaction of a legally enforceable obligation, is neither obligated under this chapter to return the payment, item of property, or benefit nor liable under this chapter for the amount of the payment or the value of the item of property or benefit. But a person who, not for value, receives a payment, item of property, or any other benefit to which the person is not entitled under this chapter is obligated to return the payment, item of property, or benefit, or is personally liable for the amount of the payment or the value of the item of property or benefit, to the person who is entitled to it under this chapter.

(d) If this chapter or any part of this chapter is preempted by federal law with respect to a payment, an item of property, or any other benefit covered by this chapter, a person who, not for value, receives the payment, item of property, or any other benefit to which the person is not entitled under this chapter is obligated to return the payment, item of property, or benefit, or is personally liable for the amount of the payment or the value of the item of property or benefit, to the person who would have been entitled to it were this chapter or part of this chapter not preempted.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-292, § 202, 48 DCR 2087.)

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 7 of the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act (1993 Act).


§ 19–508. Uniformity of application and construction.

This chapter shall be applied and construed to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law with respect to the subject of this chapter among the states enacting it.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-292, § 202, 48 DCR 2087.)

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 8 of the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act (1993 Act).


§ 19–509. Application to existing relationships.

On the effective date of this chapter [April 27, 2001]:

(1) An act done before the effective date in any proceeding and any accrued right is not impaired by this chapter. If a right is acquired, extinguished, or barred upon the expiration of a prescribed period of time that has commenced to run by the provisions of any statute before the effective date, the provisions remain in force with respect to that right; and

(2) Any rule of construction or presumption provided in this chapter applies to instruments executed and multiple-party accounts opened before the effective date unless there is a clear indication of a contrary intent.


(Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-292, § 202, 48 DCR 2087.)

Editor's Notes

Uniform Law: This section is based upon § 12 of the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act (1993 Act).