2022 Colorado Code
Title 15 - Probate, Trusts, and Fiduciaries
Article 11 - Intestate Succession and Wills
Part 7 - Rules of Construction Applicable to Wills and Other Governing Instruments
§ 15-11-705. Class Gifts Construed to Accord With Intestate Succession

Universal Citation: CO Code § 15-11-705 (2022)
  1. Definitions. In this section:
    1. "Adoptee" has the meaning set forth in section 15-11-115.
    2. "Child of assisted reproduction" has the meaning set forth in section 15-11-120.
    3. "Distribution date" means the date when an immediate or postponed class gift takes effect in possession or enjoyment.
    4. "Functioned as a parent of the adoptee" has the meaning set forth in section 15-11-115, substituting "adoptee" for "child" in that definition.
    5. "Functioned as a parent of the child" has the meaning set forth in section 15-11-115.
    6. "Genetic parent" has the meaning set forth in section 15-11-115.
    7. "Gestational child" has the meaning set forth in section 15-11-121.
    8. "Relative" has the meaning set forth in section 15-11-115.
  2. Terms of relationship. A class gift that uses a term of relationship to identify the class members includes a child of assisted reproduction, a gestational child, and, except as otherwise provided in subsections (5) and (6) of this section, an adoptee and a child born to parents who are not married to each other, and their respective descendants if appropriate to the class, in accordance with the rules for intestate succession regarding parent-child relationships.
  3. Relatives by marriage. Terms of relationship in a governing instrument that do not differentiate relationships by blood from those by marriage, such as uncles, aunts, nieces, or nephews, standing alone shall be construed to exclude relatives by marriage.
  4. Half-blood relatives. Terms of relationship in a governing instrument that do not differentiate relationships by the half blood from those by the whole blood, such as brothers, sisters, nieces, or nephews, standing alone shall be construed to include both types of relationships.
  5. Transferor not genetic parent. In construing a dispositive provision of a transferor who is not the genetic parent, a child of a genetic parent is not considered the child of the genetic parent unless the genetic parent, a relative of the genetic parent, or the spouse or surviving spouse of the genetic parent or of a relative of the genetic parent functioned as a parent of the child before the child reached eighteen years of age.
  6. Transferor not adoptive parent. In construing a dispositive provision of a transferor who is not the adoptive parent, an adoptee is not considered the child of the adoptive parent unless:
    1. The adoption took place before the adoptee reached eighteen years of age;
    2. The adoptive parent was the adoptee's stepparent or foster parent; or
    3. The adoptive parent functioned as a parent of the adoptee before the adoptee reached eighteen years of age.
  7. Class-closing rules. The following rules apply for purposes of the class-closing rules:
    1. A child in utero at a particular time is treated as living at that time if the child lives one hundred twenty hours after birth.
    2. If a child of assisted reproduction or a gestational child is conceived posthumously and the distribution date is the deceased parent's death, the child is treated as living on the distribution date if the child lives one hundred twenty hours after birth and was in utero not later than thirty-six months after the deceased parent's death or born not later than forty-five months after the deceased parent's death.
    3. An individual who is in the process of being adopted when the class closes is treated as adopted when the class closes if the adoption is subsequently granted.

Source: L. 94: Entire part R&RE, p. 1012, § 3, effective July 1, 1995. L. 2009: Entire section amended, (HB 09-1287), ch. 310, p. 1685, § 14, effective July 1, 2010. L. 2010: (3) and (4) amended, (SB 10-199), ch. 374, p. 1751, § 12, effective July 1.

Cross references: For provisions relating to the time of taking effect or the provisions for transition of this code, see § 15-17-101.

COMMENT

This section facilitates a modern construction of gifts that identify the recipient by reference to a relationship to someone; usually these gifts will be class gifts. The rules of construction contained in this section are substantially consistent with the rules of construction contained in the Restatement (Third) of Property: Wills and Other Donative Transfers §§ 14.5 through 14.9. These sections of the Restatement apply to the treatment for class-gift purposes of an adoptee, a nonmarital child, a child of assisted reproduction, a gestational child, and a relative by marriage.

The rules set forth in this section are rules of construction, which under Section 2-701 are controlling in the absence of a finding of a contrary intention. With two exceptions, Section 2-705 invokes the rules pertaining to intestate succession as rules of construction for interpreting terms of relationship in private instruments.

Subsection (a): Definitions. With one exception, the definitions in subsection (a) rely on definitions contained in intestacy sections. The one exception is the definition of "distribution date," which is relevant to the class-closing rules contained in subsection (g). Distribution date is defined as the date when an immediate or postponed class gift takes effect in possession or enjoyment.

Subsection (b): Terms of Relationship. Subsection (b) provides that a class gift that uses a term of relationship to identify the takers includes a child of assisted reproduction and a gestational child, and their respective descendants if appropriate to the class, in accordance with the rules for intestate succession regarding parent-child relationships. As provided in subsection (g), inclusion of a child of assisted reproduction or a gestational child in a class is subject to the class-closing rules. See Examples 11 through 15.

Subsection (b) also provides that, except as otherwise provided in subsections (e) and (f), an adoptee and a child born to parents who are not married to each other, and their respective descendants if appropriate to the class, are included in class gifts and other terms of relationship in accordance with the rules for intestate succession regarding parent-child relationships. The subsection (e) exception relates to situations in which the transferor is not the genetic parent of the child. The subsection (f) exception relates to situations in which the transferor is not the adoptive parent of the adoptee. Consequently, if the transferor is the genetic or adoptive parent of the child, neither exception applies, and the class gift or other term of relationship is construed in accordance with the rules for intestate succession regarding parent-child relationships. As provided in subsection (g), inclusion of an adoptee or a child born to parents who are not married to each other in a class is subject to the class-closing rules. See Examples 9 and 10.

Subsection (c): Relatives by Marriage. Subsection (c) provides that terms of relationship that do not differentiate relationships by blood from those by marriage, such as "uncles", "aunts", "nieces", or "nephews", are construed to exclude relatives by marriage.

Subsection (d): Half Blood Relatives. In providing that terms of relationship that do not differentiate relationships by the half blood from those by the whole blood, such as "brothers", "sisters", "nieces", or "nephews", are construed to include both types of relationships, subsection (d) is consistent with the rules for intestate succession regarding parent-child relationships. See Section 2-107 and the phrase "or either of them" in Section 2-103(3) and (4). As provided in subsection (g), inclusion of a half blood relative in a class is subject to the class-closing rules.

Subsection (e): Transferor Not Genetic Parent. The general theory of subsection (e) is that a transferor who is not the genetic parent of a child would want the child to be included in a class gift as a child of the genetic parent only if the genetic parent (or one or more of the specified relatives of the child's genetic parent functioned as a parent of the child before the child reached the age of [18]. As provided in subsection (g), inclusion of a genetic child in a class is subject to the class-closing rules.

Example 9 . G's will created a trust, income to G's son, A, for life, remainder in corpus to A's descendants who survive A, by representation. A fathered a child, X; A and X's mother, D, never married each other, and A never functioned as a parent of the child, nor did any of A's relatives or spouses or surviving spouses of any of A's relatives. D later married E; D and E raised X as a member of their household. Because neither A nor any of A's specified relatives ever functioned as a parent of X, X would not be included as a member of the class of A's descendants who take the corpus of G's trust on A's death.

If, however, A executed a will containing a devise to his children or designated his children as beneficiary of his life insurance policy, X would be included in the class. Under Section 2-117, X would be A's child for purposes of intestate succession. Subsection (c) is inapplicable because the transferor, A, is the genetic parent.

Subsection (f): Transferor Not Adoptive Parent. The general theory of subsection (f) is that a transferor who is not the adoptive parent of an adoptee would want the child to be included in a class gift as a child of the adoptive parent only if (i) the adoption took place before the adoptee reached the age of [18]; (ii) the adoptive parent was the adoptee's stepparent or foster parent; or (iii) the adoptive parent functioned as a parent of the adoptee before the adoptee reached the age of [18]. As provided in subsection (g), inclusion of an adoptee in a class is subject to the class-closing rules.

Example 10 . G's will created a trust, income to G's daughter, A, for life, remainder in corpus to A's descendants who survive A, by representation. A and A's husband adopted a 47-year old man, X. Because the adoption did not take place before X reached the age of [18], A was not X's stepparent or foster parent, and A did not function as a parent of X before X reached the age of [18]. X would not be included as a member of the class of A's descendants who take the corpus of G's trust on A's death.

If, however, A executed a will containing a devise to her children or designated her children as beneficiary of her life insurance policy, X would be included in the class. Under Section 2-118, X would be A's child for purposes of intestate succession. Subsection (d) is inapplicable because the transferor, A, is an adoptive parent.

Subsection (g): Class-Closing Rules. In order for an individual to be a taker under a class gift that uses a term of relationship to identify the class members, the individual must (i) qualify as a class member under subsection (b), (c), (d), (e), or (f) and (ii) not be excluded by the class-closing rules. For an exposition of the class-closing rules, see Restatement (Third) of Property: Wills and Other Donative Transfers § 15.1. Section 15.1 provides that, "unless the language or circumstances establish that the transferor had a different intention, a class gift that has not yet closed physiologically closes to future entrants on the distribution date if a beneficiary of the class gift is then entitled to distribution."

Subsection (g)(1): Child in Utero. Subsection (g)(1) codifies the well-accepted rule that a child in utero at a particular time is treated as living at that time if the child lives 120 hours after birth.

Subsection (g)(2): Children of Assisted Reproduction and Gestational Children; Class Gift in Which Distribution Date Arises At Deceased Parent's Death. Subsection (g)(2) changes the class-closing rules in one respect. If a child of assisted reproduction (as defined in Section 2-120) or a gestational child (as defined in Section 2-121) is conceived posthumously, and if the distribution date arises at the deceased parent's death, then the child is treated as living on the distribution date if the child lives 120 hours after birth and was either (i) in utero no later than 36 months after the deceased parent's death or (ii) born no later than 45 months after the deceased parent's death.

The 36-month period in subsection (g)(2) is designed to allow a surviving spouse or partner a period of grieving, time to make up his or her mind about whether to go forward with assisted reproduction, and a reasonable allowance for unsuccessful attempts to achieve a pregnancy. The 36-month period also coincides with Section 3-1006, under which an heir is allowed to recover property improperly distributed or its value from any distributee during the later of three years after the decedent's death or one year after distribution. If the assisted-reproduction procedure is performed in a medical facility, the date when the child is in utero will ordinarily be evidenced by medical records. In some cases, however, the procedure is not performed in a medical facility, and so such evidence may be lacking. Providing an alternative of birth within 45 months is designed to provide certainty in such cases. The 45-month period is based on the 36-month period with an additional nine months tacked on to allow for a normal period of pregnancy.

Example 11 . G, a member of the armed forces, executed a military will under 10 U.S.C. § 1044d shortly before being deployed to a war zone. G's will devised "90 percent of my estate to my wife W and 10 percent of my estate to my children." G also left frozen sperm at a sperm bank in case he should be killed in action. G consented to be treated as the parent of the child within the meaning of § 2-120(f). G was killed in action. After G's death, W decided to become inseminated with his frozen sperm so she could have his child. If the child so produced was either (i) in utero within 36 months after G's death or (ii) born within 45 months after G's death, and if the child lived 120 hours after birth, the child is treated as living at G's death and is included in the class.

Example 12 . G, a member of the armed forces, executed a military will under 10 U.S.C. § 1044d shortly before being deployed to a war zone. G's will devised "90 percent of my estate to my husband H and 10 percent of my estate to my issue by representation." G also left frozen embryos in case she should be killed in action. G consented to be the parent of the child within the meaning of § 2-120(f). G was killed in action. After G's death, H arranged for the embryos to be implanted in the uterus of a gestational carrier. If the child so produced was either (i) in utero within 36 months after G's death or (ii) born within 45 months after the G's death, and if the child lived 120 hours after birth, the child is treated as living at G's death and is included in the class.

Example 13 . The will of G's mother created a testamentary trust, directing the trustee to pay the income to G for life, then to distribute the trust principal to G's children. When G's mother died, G was married but had no children. Shortly after being diagnosed with leukemia, G feared that he would be rendered infertile by the disease or by the treatment for the disease, so he left frozen sperm at a sperm bank. G consented to be the parent of the child within the meaning of § 2-120(f). After G's death, G's widow decided to become inseminated with his frozen sperm so she could have his child. If the child so produced was either (i) in utero within 36 months after G's death or (ii) born within 45 months after the G's death, and if the child lived 120 hours after birth, the child is treated as living at G's death and is included in the class under the rule of convenience.

Subsection (g)(2) Inapplicable Unless Child of Assisted Reproduction or Gestational Child is Conceived Posthumously and Distribution Date Arises At Deceased Parent's Death. Subsection (g)(2) only applies if a child of assisted reproduction or a gestational child is conceived posthumously and the distribution date arises at the deceased parent's death. Subsection (g)(2) does not apply if a child of assisted reproduction or a gestational child is not conceived posthumously. It also does not apply if the distribution date arises before or after the deceased parent's death. In cases to which subsection (g)(2) does not apply, the ordinary class-closing rules apply. For purposes of the ordinary class-closing rules, subsection (g)(1) provides that a child in utero at a particular time is treated as living at that time if the child lives 120 hours after birth.

This means, for example, that, with respect to a child of assisted reproduction or a gestational child, a class gift in which the distribution date arises after the deceased parent's death is not limited to a child who is born before or in utero at the deceased parent's death or, in the case of posthumous conception, either (i) in utero within 36 months after the deceased parent's death or (ii) born within 45 months after the deceased parent's death. The ordinary class-closing rules would only exclude a child of assisted reproduction or a gestational child if the child was not yet born or in utero on the distribution date (or who was then in utero but who failed to live 120 hours after birth).

A case that reached the same result that would be reached under this section is In re Martin B., 841 N.Y.S.2d 207 (Sur. Ct. 2007). In that case, two children (who were conceived posthumously and were born to a deceased father's widow around three and five years after his death) were included in class gifts to the deceased father's "issue" or "descendants". The children would be included under this section because (i) the deceased father signed a record that would satisfy Section 2-120(f)(1), (ii) the distribution dates arose after the deceased father's death, and (iii) the children were living on the distribution dates, thus satisfying subsection (g)(1).

Example 14 . G created a revocable inter vivos trust shortly before his death. The trustee was directed to pay the income to G for life, then "to pay the income to my wife, W, for life, then to distribute the trust principal by representation to my descendants who survive W." When G died, G and W had no children. Shortly before G's death and after being diagnosed with leukemia, G feared that he would be rendered infertile by the disease or by the treatment for the disease, so he left frozen sperm at a sperm bank. G consented to be the parent of the child within the meaning of § 2-120(f). After G's death, W decided to become inseminated with G's frozen sperm so that she could have his child. The child, X, was born five years after G's death. W raised X. Upon W's death many years later, X was a grown adult. X is entitled to receive the trust principal, because a parent-child relationship between G and X existed under § 2-120(f) and X was living on the distribution date.

Example 15 . The will of G's mother created a testamentary trust, directing the trustee to pay the income to G for life, then "to pay the income by representation to G's issue from time to time living, and at the death of G's last surviving child, to distribute the trust principal by representation to G descendants who survive G's last surviving child." When G's mother died, G was married but had no children. Shortly after being diagnosed with leukemia, G feared that he would be rendered infertile by the disease or by the treatment for the disease, so he left frozen sperm at a sperm bank. G consented to be the parent of the child within the meaning of § 2-120(f). After G's death, G's widow decided to become inseminated with his frozen sperm so she could have his child. If the child so produced was either (i) in utero within 36 months after G's death or (ii) born within 45 months after the G's death, and if the child lived 120 hours after birth, the child is treated as living at G's death and is included in the class-gift of income under the rule of convenience. If G's widow later decides to use his frozen sperm to have another child or children, those children would be included in the class-gift of income (assuming they live 120 hours after birth) even if they were not in utero within 36 months after G's death or born within 45 months after the G's death. The reason is that an income interest in class-gift form is treated as creating separate class gifts in which the distribution date is the time of payment of each subsequent income payment. See Restatement (Third) of Property: Wills and Other Donative Transfers § 15.1 cmt. p. Regarding the remainder interest in principal that takes effect in possession on the death of G's last living child, the issue of the posthumously conceived children who are then living would take the trust principal.

Subsection (g)(3). For purposes of the class-closing rules, an individual who is in the process of being adopted when the class closes is treated as adopted when the class closes if the adoption is subsequently granted. An individual is "in the process of being adopted" if a legal proceeding to adopt the individual had been filed before the class closed. However, the phrase "in the process of being adopted" is not intended to be limited to the filing of a legal proceeding, but is intended to grant flexibility to find on a case by case basis that the process commenced earlier.

Companion Statute. A state enacting this provision should also consider enacting the Uniform Status of Children of Assisted Conception Act (1988).

Historical Note. This Comment was revised in 1993 and 2008.

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