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Estate of Baird

Supreme Court of Washington
933 P.2d 1031 (1997)


Phyllis Baird died intestate, and was survived by two children, James and Julie. James had two children, Jayme and Hunter, from a previous marriage. Prior to Phyllis’s death, James married Susan. James assaulted Susan, and was convicted and sentenced to prison. James then executed a document stating that he disclaimed any interest he might have in Phyllis’s estate. Susan brought a personal injury action against James and was awarded a $2.75 million judgment against him. James filed for bankruptcy, with Susan’s judgment making up nearly all of the creditors’ claims to the bankruptcy estate. Jayme and Hunter (plaintiffs) petitioned the probate court to find that James had disclaimed his interest in Phyllis’s estate, and Susan (defendant) objected. Under §11.86 of the Washington statutes, which conforms to the Uniform Probate Code’s provision on disclaimers, a beneficiary may disclaim any interest that would otherwise be taken by the beneficiary. Section 11.86 of the statutes defines a beneficiary as a person entitled to take an interest. Under § 11.86, types of interests that can be disclaimed include an interest in property, a contingent or vested interest in property, and an interest that is created by intestate succession. The probate court found James’ disclaimer to be invalid, and Jayme and Hunter appealed.

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