TITLE 12

Decedents' Estates and Fiduciary Relations

Administration of Decedents' Estates

CHAPTER 23. ACCOUNTING AND DISTRIBUTION

Subchapter II. Payment of Legacies or Distributive Shares


Except where circumstances justify a longer period, an executor or administrator shall have 1 year from the date of letters for settling the estate of the decedent; and until the expiration of that time, the executor or administrator shall not be required to make distribution, nor be chargeable with interest upon the assets in the executor's or administrator's hands; but if any part of the estate carry interest or be productive the executor or administrator shall account for the interest or produce.

Code 1852, § 1844; Code 1915, § 3387; Code 1935, § 3852; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2311; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) Any legacy, if no time is appointed, shall be payable 1 year from the date of the first appointment of a personal representative.

(b) Payment or delivery of any legacy may be refused if it is apparent that there are not assets for the purpose; and a personal representative, if the representative knows of any demand, whether outstanding or potential, shall not be obliged to pay or deliver a legacy or distributive share unless the person entitled shall, with sufficient security, become bound to the executor or administrator by a joint and several obligation, in a penalty double the value of the legacy or share, with condition to be void if the person receiving the legacy or share, or the person's executors or administrators, in case of a deficiency of assets of the decedent for the payment of all the just demands and charges against the decedent's estate and all legacies by the decedent duly given, without such share or legacy or part thereof, shall refund and pay to the executor or administrator, or the person's executors, administrators or assigns, the sum or value of the legacy or distributive share, with interest, or such portion thereof as justly and lawfully ought to be contributed on occasion of such deficiency.

(c) Except where circumstances justify a longer period, pecuniary legacies shall bear interest at the rate of 4 percent per annum payable from the estate beginning 13 months after the first appointment of a personal representative until payment unless a contrary intent is indicated by the will.

(d) If a legacy is to be paid before the expiration of the first year from the date of the first appointment of a personal representative, security may be required, although no claim against the estate is known.

Code 1852, §§ 1845, 1846; Code 1915, § 3388; Code 1935, § 3853; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2312; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1; 75 Del. Laws, c. 299, § 5.;

(a)(1) If a devisee or legatee who is a grandparent or lineal descendant of a grandparent of the testator is dead at the time of the execution of the will, fails to survive the testator or is treated as if the devisee or legatee predeceased the testator, the issue of the deceased devisee or legatee who survived the testator by 120 hours take in place of the deceased devisee or legatee, per stirpes.

(2) One who would have been a devisee or legatee under a class gift if that person had survived the testator is treated as a devisee or legatee for purposes of this section whether death occurred before or after the execution of the will.

(b) This section shall not apply in the case of wills wherein provisions have been made for distribution of property different from this section.

36 Del. Laws, c. 259, § 1; Code 1935, § 3854; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2313; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) Except as provided in § 2313 of this title, if the residue is given to 2 or more persons and if a share of a residuary beneficiary fails for any reason, such share shall pass to the other residuary beneficiary or beneficiaries in proportion to the interest of each beneficiary in the remaining part of the residue.

(b) This section shall not apply in the case of wills wherein provisions have been made for distribution of property different from this section.

75 Del. Laws, c. 303, § 1.;

A legacy shall not be deemed to be in satisfaction of a debt due from the testator to the legatee, unless the intention of the testator that it shall be so accepted shall appear upon the will expressly or by manifest implication.

Code 1852, § 1847; Code 1915, § 3390; Code 1935, § 3855; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2314; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1.;

(a) If an executor or administrator cannot pay over money in the executor's or administrator's hands as such because of the infancy or absence from the State of a person entitled to a legacy or distributive share of personal estate, or any part thereof, the executor or administrator may deposit the same in any state or national bank with its principal office in the State to the credit of the person so entitled; and the executor or administrator shall take from the cashier a certificate of deposit, and deliver the same to the Register of Wills for the county where the deposit is made, to be by the Register of Wills recorded in accordance with § 2320 of this title; and the record of the certificate, or a certified copy thereof, shall be evidence.

(b) Whenever the party entitled to any deposit under subsection (a) of this section is a minor, the executor or administrator shall, in respect to the minor, make a report to the Court of Chancery in the county where the deposit is made of the executor's or administrator's proceedings under subsection (a) of this section, and shall exhibit to and file in the Court, the original certificate of deposit, which shall be recorded in the Court.

(c) A deposit under this section and a compliance with its provisions shall be a sufficient discharge of the executor or administrator, and of the executor's or administrator's sureties, for the money so deposited.

Code 1852, §§ 1848-1851; Code 1915, § 3391; Code 1935, § 3856; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2315; 57 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 3; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 63 Del. Laws, c. 142, § 29; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) If an executor, administrator or trustee cannot pay over a legacy, residue of intestate personal estate, distributive share or trust fund in the executor's, administrator's or trustee's hands, because the person entitled to the same, or any part thereof, is absent from the State, unknown or incompetent to receive the same or because the shares of the persons entitled to the same are unknown, such executor, administrator or trustee may present to the Court of Chancery a petition setting forth the facts and praying relief. The Court, upon being satisfied that it is a proper case for relief, shall order the petitioner to pay into the Court of Chancery the amount in the petitioner's hands, with the interest which may have accrued thereon, less such costs, expenses and counsel fees as may be allowed by the Court. Upon compliance with such order the petitioner and the petitioner's sureties shall be discharged from all further liability in respect to the money so paid.

(b) Any money so paid into Court may, by order of the Court, be deposited, in the name of the Court, in any state or national bank having its principal office in the State, or in any savings bank in this State, or invested in the name of the State in the funded debt of this State or of the United States, or upon bond or mortgage or both for the benefit of the parties entitled to the same. The costs of such investment shall be payable out of the fund.

(c) The Court may direct such proceedings, issue such writs and make such orders as it deems expedient for ascertaining the parties entitled to the money paid into Court, and for the payment and distribution of the same; and for this purpose the Court may cause notice to parties interested, residing out of this State or whose residences are unknown, to be given by publication or otherwise as it directs and may appoint an auditor to investigate and report to the Court as to any matter necessary to be determined in the premises. Any proceeding, writ or order authorized by this section may be taken, directed, issued, returned or made as well in vacation at chambers as at term time.

(d) Any payment or distribution of money paid into Court and made by order of the Court under this section shall be final and conclusive as to the right of the parties interested therein.

16 Del. Laws, c. 523, §§ 1-4; Code 1915, § 3392; Code 1935, § 3857; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2316; 50 Del. Laws, c. 209, §§ 1, 2; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 63 Del. Laws, c. 142, § 30; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section and except as provided in connection with the elective share of the surviving spouse who elects to take an elective share, shares of distributees abate, with personal property to be abated prior to real property within each class, in the following order:

(1) Property not disposed of by the will;

(2) Residuary bequests and devises;

(3) General bequests and devises;

(4) Specific bequests and devises.

For purposes of abatement, a general bequest or devise charged on any specific property or fund is a specific bequest or devise to the extent of the value of the property on which it is charged, and upon the failure or insufficiency of the property on which it is charged, a general bequest or devise to the extent of the failure or insufficiency. Abatement within each classification is in proportion to the amounts of property each of the beneficiaries would have received if full distribution of the property had been made in accordance with the terms of the will.

(b) If the will expresses an order of abatement, or if the testamentary plan or the express or implied purpose of the devise would be defeated by the order of abatement stated in subsection (a) of this section, the shares of the distributees abate as may be found necessary to give effect to the intention of the testator.

(c) If the subject of a preferred bequest or devise is sold or used incident to administration, abatement shall be achieved by appropriate adjustments in, or contribution from, other interests in the remaining assets.

Code 1852, § 2594; Code 1915, § 4522; Code 1935, § 4976; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2317; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 64 Del. Laws, c. 252, § 7.;

If there are several legacies, and a return of part of a legacy which has been paid becomes necessary, the legatee shall only be required to return a proportional part of the legatee's legacy towards making up the whole sum wanting.

Code 1852, § 2600; Code 1915, § 4528; Code 1935, § 4982; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2318; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

Whenever an executor or administrator makes an assignment of any investment or transfers or delivers any personal property of any testator or intestate to a guardian or trustee as payment in whole or in part of a specific legacy or of a distributive share, such guardian or trustee shall give to the executor or administrator, for the purpose of accounting by the executor or administrator in the settlement of the estate only, a receipt therefor at the valuation fixed in the appraisement of the estate of such testator or intestate. The receipt, when filed with the Court of Chancery, shall be a sufficient discharge of such executor or administrator and of the executor's or administrator's sureties for any property so transferred or delivered, and such guardian or trustee may take over such property and may, without liability for any loss or depreciation therein, continue to hold the same, until in the exercise of due care it shall become no longer wise so to do. Nothing herein contained shall permit or require a guardian or trustee to take over in settlement of a distributive share of an estate property at a value less than the distributive portion of the estate to which such guardian or trustee would otherwise be entitled. In case a guardian or trustee is acting under authority of an instrument or a court order, the terms and provisions of such instrument or court order shall be controlling as to the powers and duties of such guardian or trustee.

20 Del. Laws, c. 114, § 3; 20 Del. Laws, c. 115, § 2; Code 1915, § 3394; 37 Del. Laws, c. 245, § 2; Code 1935, § 3858; 42 Del. Laws, c. 141, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2319; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

Any release, acquittance or receipt, being executed under hand and seal by any legatee, next of kin or interested person, of full age, to an executor or administrator, for any property or sum of money due by virtue of a will or upon a testamentary or administration account passed before the Register of Wills, and acknowledged before any justice or judge, Register of Wills, justice of the peace, notary public of any state or territory of the United States or of the District of Columbia, or before any consul general, consul, vice-consul, consular agent or commercial agent of the United States duly appointed in any foreign country, and certified under the hand of such officer and the seal of such office, shall, upon being filed with the Court of Chancery in and for the county in which such will or account is recorded or filed, be recorded in a book for that purpose, which shall have direct and reversed alphabetical indices. Such record or a duly certified copy thereof under the hand and official seal of the Register of Wills shall be competent evidence in all cases.

(b) The following form of acknowledgment shall be sufficient in all cases:

"State of........................   ss.

County of.......................

Acknowledged by................................. to be a voluntary act and deed, before me (here state the official character of the person before whom the acknowledgment is made) this................. day of.......................,........

Witness my hand and seal.''

Justices of the peace of this State need only sign their name, there being no seal of office.

Code 1852, §§ 1870-1873; 12 Del. Laws, c. 325, §§ 1, 2; 24 Del. Laws, c. 246, § 3; 24 Del. Laws, c. 247, §§ 1, 2; 25 Del. Laws, c. 224, § 1; 26 Del. Laws, c. 257, § 1; Code 1915, §§ 3408, 3410; Code 1935, §§ 3872, 3874; 43 Del. Laws, c. 210, § 1; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 2320; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1; 70 Del Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) Where a will or a trust agreement authorizes the executor or trustee (hereinafter called the "fiduciary'') to satisfy wholly or partly in kind a pecuniary bequest or transfer in trust of a pecuniary amount, unless the will or trust agreement otherwise expressly provides, the assets selected by the fiduciary for that purpose shall be valued at their respective values on the date or dates of their distribution.

(b) Where a will or a trust agreement authorizes the fiduciary to satisfy wholly or partly in kind a pecuniary bequest or a transfer in trust of a pecuniary amount, and the will or trust agreement requires the fiduciary to value the assets selected for such distribution by a formula using a date other than the date or dates of their distribution, unless the will or trust agreement otherwise expressly provides, the assets selected by the fiduciary for distribution, together with any cash to be distributed, shall have an aggregate value on the date or dates of their distribution equal to the amount of such bequest or transfer in trust as determined by the formula stated in the will or trust agreement.

12 Del. C. 1953, § 2321; 56 Del. Laws, c. 225, § 1; 59 Del. Laws, c. 384, § 1.;

(a) Definitions.

(1) "Decedent'' shall mean any person whose life is taken by a slayer.

(2) "Property'' shall include any real or personal property, tangible or intangible, and any right or interest therein.

(3) "Slayer'' shall mean any person who pleads guilty or nolo contendere to or is convicted of the offenses described in § 632, § 635, or § 636 of Title 11, as the same may be amended from time to time, excluding, however, those persons who plead guilty or nolo contendere or are convicted of manslaughter under § 632 of Title 11 as a result of the mitigating circumstances of extreme emotional distress as described in § 641 of Title 11. "Slayer'' shall also mean:

a. Any person who pleads guilty or nolo contendere to or is convicted in a court of competent jurisdiction under the laws of the United States, any state, commonwealth, possession, or territory thereof, or any foreign country that requires that guilt be proven beyond a reasonable doubt of any act that would constitute an offense described in the preceding sentence; or

b. Any person, excluding a person who has been acquitted, found not guilty, or against whom a charge of having committed a homicide against a decedent has been found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be not proved, who is determined beyond a reasonable doubt by a court of competent jurisdiction to have committed a homicide against a decedent.

(b) Statutory descent and rights. — The slayer shall be deemed to have predeceased the decedent as to property which would have passed from the estate of the decedent to the slayer under the statutes of descent and distribution or have been acquired by statutory right as surviving spouse.

(c) Wills and trusts. — The slayer shall be deemed to have predeceased the decedent as to property which would have passed to the slayer by devise or legacy from the decedent, and as to property which would have passed to the slayer from a trust to the extent that the decedent was the grantor of the trust or was the beneficiary of the trust immediately before the death of the decedent.

(d) Tenancy by entirety. — Any property held by the slayer and the decedent as tenants by the entirety shall, upon the death of the decedent, be converted to property held as tenants in common, and 1/2 of the property shall pass to the decedent's heirs, legatees and devisees, and the other half shall pass to the slayer, unless the slayer or the decedent's estate effects a partition of the property.

(e) Joint tenancy with rights of survivorship.

(1) Any property held solely by the slayer and the decedent as joint tenants, joint owners or joint obligees shall, upon the death of the decedent, be converted to property held as tenants in common and 1/2 of the property shall pass to the decedent's heirs, legatees or devisees, and the other half shall pass to the slayer, unless the slayer or the decedent's estate effects a partition of the property.

(2) As to property held jointly by 3 or more persons as joint tenants with right of survivorship, including the slayer and the decedent, the decedent's interest shall be converted to that of a proportional tenant in common, and the decedent's interest shall pass to the decedent's heirs, legatees and devisees, unless the decedent's estate or a surviving joint tenant effects a partition of the property. The interest of the other tenants remains unaffected.

(3) The provisions of this section shall not affect any enforceable agreement between the parties or any trust arising because a greater proportion of the property has been contributed by 1 party than by the other.

(f) Vested remainder. — Property in which the slayer holds a reversion or vested remainder and would have obtained the right of present possession upon the death of the decedent shall pass to the heirs, legatees or devisees of the decedent, and be redistributed in accordance with the decedent's will or the laws of intestate distribution, excluding the slayer, during the period of what would have been the life expectancy of the decedent if the decedent had not been slain. If the particular estate is held by a third person, it shall remain in the third person's hands for such period.

(g) Contingent remainder. — As to any contingent remainder or executory or other future interest held by the slayer, subject to become vested in the slayer or increased in any way for the slayer upon the condition of the death of the decedent:

(1) If the interest would not have become vested or increased if the slayer had predeceased the decedent, the slayer shall be deemed to have so predeceased the decedent.

(2) In any other case, the interest of the slayer shall be extinguished.

(h) Proceeds passing by designation.

(1) Except when there are conflicting provisions in a contract governing any policy or certificate of insurance on the life of the decedent, or of a joint life policy on the life of the decedent and the slayer, or governing the designee of any other property, the proceeds of such property shall be paid according to the terms of the contract as though the slayer had predeceased the decedent. If the contract does not provide for a beneficiary in the event that the slayer predeceased the decedent, the property shall be paid to the estate of the decedent.

(2) If the decedent is beneficiary or assignee of any policy or certificate of insurance on the life of the slayer, or the designee of any other property, the proceeds shall be paid to the estate of the decedent upon the death of the slayer, unless the policy or certificate names some person other than the slayer or the slayer's estate as secondary beneficiary, or unless the slayer, by naming a new beneficiary or assigning the policy, performs an act which would have deprived the decedent of the interest in the policy if the decedent had been living.

(3) Any insurance or other company making payment according to the terms of its policy or any bank or other person performing an obligation for the slayer as one of several joint obligees shall not be subjected to additional liability by the terms of this section if such payment or performance is made without written notice of the conviction of the slayer.

(i) Purchasers for value without notice. — The provisions of this section shall not affect the rights of any person who, before the slayer has been convicted, purchases or has agreed to purchase, from the slayer for value and without notice, property which the slayer would have acquired except for the terms of this section, but all proceeds received by the slayer from such sale shall be held by the slayer in trust for the persons entitled to the property under the provisions of this section, and the slayer shall also be liable both for any portion of such proceeds which the slayer may have dissipated and for any difference between the actual value of the property and the amount of such proceeds.

(j) Record of conviction admissible in civil actions. — The record of the slayer's conviction for participating in or causing the death of the decedent shall be admissible in evidence against a claimant of property in any civil action arising as a consequence of this section.

(k) Construction. — This section shall not be considered penal in nature, but shall be construed broadly in order to effect the policy of this State that a person shall not be permitted to profit by that person's own wrong.

69 Del. Laws, c. 162, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 139, §§ 1-7; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 76 Del. Laws, c. 254, § 1.;