Prohibition of retirement benefits passing to slayer or abuser beneficiary — Determination by department of retirement systems — Duties upon notice — Payment upon verdicts — Admissibility of evidence — Immunity.
(1) For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(a) "Abuser" has the same meaning as provided in RCW 11.84.010.
(b) "Decedent" means any person who is entitled to benefits from the Washington state department of retirement systems by written designation or by operation of law:
(i) Whose life is taken by a slayer; or
(ii) Who is deceased and who, at any time during life in which he or she was a vulnerable adult, was the victim of financial exploitation by an abuser, except as provided in RCW 11.84.170.
(c) "Slayer" means a slayer as defined in RCW 11.84.010.
(2) Property that would have passed to or for the benefit of a beneficiary under one of the retirement systems listed in RCW 41.50.030 shall not pass to that beneficiary if the beneficiary was a slayer or abuser of the decedent and the property shall be distributed as if the slayer or abuser had predeceased the decedent.
(3) A slayer or abuser is deemed to have predeceased the decedent as to property which, by designation or by operation of law, would have passed from the decedent to the slayer or abuser because of the decedent's entitlement to benefits under one of the retirement systems listed in RCW 41.50.030.
(4)(a) The department of retirement systems has no affirmative duty to determine whether a beneficiary is, or is alleged to be, a slayer or abuser. However, upon receipt of written notice that a beneficiary is a defendant in a civil lawsuit or probate proceeding that alleges the beneficiary is a slayer or abuser, or is charged with a crime that, if committed, means the beneficiary is a slayer or abuser, the department of retirement systems shall determine whether the beneficiary is a defendant in such a civil proceeding or has been formally charged in court with the crime, or both. If so, the department shall withhold payment of any benefits until:
(i) The case or charges, or both if both are pending, are dismissed;
(ii) The beneficiary is found not guilty in the criminal case or prevails in the civil proceeding, or both if both are pending; or
(iii) The beneficiary is convicted or is found to be a slayer or abuser in the civil proceeding.
(b) If the case or charges, or both if both are pending, are dismissed or if a beneficiary is found not guilty or prevails in the civil proceeding, or both if both are pending, the department shall pay the beneficiary the benefits the beneficiary is entitled to receive. If the beneficiary is convicted or found to be a slayer or abuser in a civil proceeding, the department shall distribute the benefits according to subsection (2) of this section.
(5) Any record of conviction for having participated in the willful and unlawful killing of the decedent or for conduct constituting financial exploitation against the decedent, including but not limited to theft, forgery, fraud, identity theft, robbery, burglary, or extortion, shall be admissible in evidence against a claimant of property in any civil action arising under this section.
(6) In the absence of a criminal conviction, a superior court may determine:
(a) By a preponderance of the evidence whether a person participated in the willful and unlawful killing of the decedent;
(b) By clear, cogent, and convincing evidence whether a person participated in conduct constituting financial exploitation against the decedent, as provided in chapter 11.84 RCW.
(7) This section shall not subject the department of retirement systems to liability for payment made to a slayer or abuser or alleged slayer or abuser, prior to the department's receipt of written notice that the slayer or abuser has been convicted of, or the alleged slayer or abuser has been formally criminally or civilly charged in court with, the death or financial exploitation of the decedent. If the conviction or civil judgment of a slayer or abuser is reversed on appeal, the department of retirement systems shall not be liable for payment made prior to the receipt of written notice of the reversal to a beneficiary other than the person whose conviction or civil judgment is reversed.
[2009 c 525 § 19; 1998 c 292 § 501.]
| Application -- 1998 c 292: "Sections 501 through 505 of this act apply to acts that result in unlawful killings of decedents by slayers on and after April 2, 1998." [1998 c 292 § 506.]|
Conflict with federal requirements -- 1998 c 292: "If any part of sections 501 through 505 of this act is found to be in conflict with federal requirements, the conflicting part of sections 501 through 505 of this act is hereby declared to be inoperative solely to the extent of the conflict, and such finding or determination does not affect the operation of the remainder of sections 501 through 505 of this act. Rules adopted under sections 501 through 505 of this act must meet federal requirements." [1998 c 292 § 507.]
Part headings and section captions not law -- Effective dates -- 1998 c 292: See RCW 11.11.902 and 11.11.903.