Brief Fact Summary. James Baird was convicted of assaulting his wife and attempted to execute an instrument disclaiming any interest in his mother’s estate. His mother, Phyllis Baird, died intestate and her two grandchildren attempted to have their father’s disclaimer declared valid.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. An individual may disclaim in whole or part any interest in a decedent’s estate, however such disclaimer must be delivered after the creation of the interest.
Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.
It is never allowed to defeat the collateral rights of third persons, lawfully acquired.
Facts. Phyllis had two children James and Julie Breckenridge, and two grandchildren Jayme Baird and Hunter Baird. Phyllis suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was appointed a guardian, Susuan K. Baird (Saulsbury) in November of 1988. In November of 1992 James married Susan K. In February 1993 James brutally assaulted Susuan and she suffered permanent disfigurement. In March of 1994 James was convicted of first degree assault and sentenced to twenty years in jail. On the same day of his conviction James executed an instrument purporting to disclaim any interest in his mother’s, Phyllis, estate. Later that year Susan was awarded a judgment of $2.75 million in a personal injury action against James. One week later James filed for bankruptcy. In December of 1994 Phyllis died intestate and James’ share of her estate constituted 60 percent of his potential assets available in the bankruptcy proceeding. Jayme and Hunter attempted to have the court declare James’ disclaimer valid,
however the bankruptcy trustee opposed this petition.
Issue. Whether an anticipatory disclaimer of expectancy interests created by intestacy can be valid?
Held. No. Affirm. Anticipatory disclaimers of expectancy interests created by intestacy are not contemplated or authorized by the state disclaimer law and therefore are invalid.
Discussion. Intestate interests are created on the death of the intestate. A valid disclaimer must disclaim a present interest and therefore a disclaimer executed before the intestate’s death is not valid as the disclaimer has no interest.