Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The 2013 Revised Dead Man's Statute

By Herb E. Tucker, Esq.

The revisions to the Colorado Dead Man's Statute went into effect on August 7, 2013 as a result of the General Assembly passing Senate Bill 13-077. The new statute applies retroactively to all pending cases, unless the court determines that it is in the interest of justice that the former statute apply.

Colorado has had a Dead Man's Statute on the books since it was a territory. In 1999, the Colorado Legislature rejected repeal of the statute recognizing, as a matter of public policy, the need for the statute to reduce the risks of false claims against decedents and incapacitated persons at trial. Despite creative arguments by crafty trial lawyers, the 2002 Dead Man's Statute has survived twelve years of judicial scrutiny, with only one published Colorado Court of Appeals case construing the statute. In conjunction with the Elder Law Section, the Trust and Estate Section of the CBA has approved the subcommittee recommendations to refine the 2002 statute to provide greater clarity to both trial lawyers and judges throughout the state. It is the subcommittee's expectation that the new statute will, for many years to come, continue to survive challenge and level the playing field in cases involving decedents or persons incapable of testifying.

For more information on the 2013 changes, contact an attorney at Wade Ash, or see Herb Tucker and Marc Darling's article in the upcoming August, 2013 issue of The Colorado Lawyer.