April 28, 2017

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Has Broad Jurisdiction Over Any Matter Essential to Resolving Probate Estate

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Estate of Owens on Thursday, April 20, 2017.

EstateJurisdictionConstructive TrustTestamentary CapacityUndue InfluenceJury TrialContempt.

Dr. Arlen E. Owens (the decedent) hired Dominguez as his private caregiver in 2010. The decedent died in July 2013. After the decedent’s death, his brother and only living heir, Owens, filed a petition for informal probate of the decedent’s will, and later a petition for determination of testacy and for determination of heirs, alleging that the will that the decedent had signed in 2012 was the product of undue influence by Dominguez and that the decedent had lacked the capacity to execute the will. He also filed a complaint for recovery of estate assets and asked the court to invalidate the will and order the decedent’s estate to be administered under intestate distribution statutes. In 2015, Owens also filed a petition to set aside non-probate transfers for three bank accounts for which Dominguez was payable-on-death (POD) beneficiary. The court imposed a constructive trust over the POD accounts. The court later upheld the will but found that the decedent had not had the capacity to execute the POD designations and had been unduly influenced by Dominguez. After issuance of the final judgment, the court issued a contempt order against Dominguez for violating the constructive trust that included the condition that she could purge the contempt by paying back the money from the bank accounts.

On appeal, Dominguez contended that the district court did not have jurisdiction to set aside the POD designations and impose a constructive trust on the POD accounts because Owens and the estate did not have standing to make such requests. A district court has jurisdiction to determine every legal and equitable question arising in connection with estates. The claims regarding the POD designations arose in connection with and were essential to the estate administration. Thus, the court had jurisdiction to impose a constructive trust, Owens had standing, and the court had jurisdiction to resolve the issues surrounding the POD designations.

Dominguez next asserted that the district court erred when it determined that the decedent had not had the testamentary capacity to designate Dominguez as beneficiary of the POD accounts and that Dominguez had unduly influenced the decedent to designate her as beneficiary of the three accounts. However, the record supports the court’s factual findings and its assessment of the credibility of each witness, and the court of appeals did not displace the district court’s conclusions.

Dominguez next argued that the district court erred when it prevented her from exercising her right to a jury trial. Because Dominguez had the opportunity to exercise her right to a jury trial and failed to do so, she waived her claims to such right.

Dominguez also contended that the district court erred in concluding that the existence of nonliquid assets can be the basis for determining that a contemnor has the present ability to pay. Here, Dominguez could not provide a coherent, consistent account of what had happened to the funds in the POD accounts. The contempt order was supported by analysis of evidence on the record. Thus, the court did not err in holding Dominguez in contempt.

The court of appeals also concluded that neither party was entitled to attorney fees.

The judgments were affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Bills Enacting Uniform Unsworn Declarations Act, Exemption from Mandatory Advisement Requirements, and More Signed

On Thursday, April 13, 2017, Governor Hickenlooper signed ten bills into law. To date, he has signed 147 bills into law this 2017 legislative session. Some of the bills signed Thursday include a bill adopting the Uniform Unsworn Declarations Act, a bill granting immunity to a person who renders emergency assistance to a person or animal in a locked vehicle, a bill exempting certain traffic violations from the mandatory advisement requirements for municipal judges, and more. The bills signed Thursday are summarized here.

  • HB 17-1021“Concerning an Employer’s Violation of Wage Laws,” by Rep. Jessie Danielson and Sen. John Cooke. The bill clarifies that information obtained by the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics that relates to a finding of a violation of wage laws is not confidential and shall be released to the public or for use in a court proceeding, unless the Director of the Division makes a determination that the information includes specific information that is a trade secret.
  • HB 17-1081“Concerning Authority to Offer In-state Tuition Classification at State-supported Institutions of Higher Education for Athletes Training in Colorado in Programs Approved by the United States Olympic Committee,” by Rep. Dan Nordberg and Sen. Stephen Fenberg. The bill allows a state-supported institution of higher education to charge in-state tuition to an athlete residing anywhere in Colorado and training in an elite level program in Colorado approved by the United States Olympic committee and the governing body of an Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American, or Parapan American sport.
  • HB 17-1083“Concerning an Exemption for Certain Traffic Violations of the Requirement that a Municipal Judge Inform a Defendant of Certain Rights,” by Rep. Larry Liston and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill excludes cases involving traffic infractions or violations for which the penalty is only a fine and for which jail is not a possibility from the requirement that municipal judges inform defendants of certain rights.
  • HB 17-1125“Concerning Eliminating the Duty of the Division of Correctional Industries to Provide Certain Services for the State’s Correctional Facilities,” by Reps. Dan Nordberg & Faith Winter and Sens. Jim Smallwood & Cheri Jahn. The bill removes a requirement that the Division of Correctional Industries in the Department of Corrections establish programs for vehicle maintenance, physical plant and facility maintenance, and food and laundry services for each of the state’s correctional facilities.
  • HB 17-1144“Concerning Amendments to the Automatic Cash Fund Funding Mechanism for Payment of Future Costs Attributable to Certain of the State’s Capital Assets,” by Rep. Daneya Esgar and Sen. Randy Baumgardner. The bill requires the General Assembly to include an annual depreciation-lease equivalent payment line item payable from the cash fund that is the funding source for the capital construction appropriation in the operating section of the annual general appropriation act for each state agency.
  • HB 17-1145“Concerning Authorization for Amateur Winemakers to Enter Wines in Organized Events,” by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill authorizes amateur winemakers to enter their wine in organized events, such as contests, tastings, or judgings at licensed premises.
  • HB 17-1179“Concerning Immunity for a Person who Renders Emergency Assistance from a Locked Vehicle,” by Reps. Lori Saine & Joann Ginal and Sens. Lois Court & Vicki Marble. The bill provides immunity from civil and criminal liability for a person who forcibly enters a locked vehicle for the purpose of rendering assistance to an at-risk person or animal.
  • HB 17-1194“Concerning Technical Changes Relating to the Operation of Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. John Cooke. The bill amends the definition of a pathways in technology early college (p-tech) high school to include a p-tech program that operates within a host school.
  • HB 17-1196“Concerning Changes to the Training Requirements for Applicants for Licensure under the ‘Barber and Cosmetologist Act’,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. Kevin Priola. The bill requires the Director of the Division of Professions and Occupations in the Department of Regulatory Agencies to promulgate rules for applicants for cosmetologist or barber licensure to furnish proof of training, not to exceed 50 credits or 1,500 contact hours.
  • SB 17-154“Concerning  the ‘Uniform Unsworn Declarations Act’, by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Cole Wist. The bill adopts in Colorado the Uniform Unsworn Declarations Act,expands the uniform law to include domestic unsworn declarations as contemplated, and clarifies that the act applies only to the use of unsworn declarations in state courts.

For a list of all Governor Hickenlooper’s 2017 legislative actions, click here.

In Memoriam: John Campbell

We at CBA-CLE were saddened to learn of the sudden passing of John Campbell, a managing editor, author, and frequent presenter for CBA-CLE on elder law topics.

John practiced estate planning and elder law at the Law Offices of John J. Campbell, PC, in Denver, where he offered services in the areas of elder law, estate planning, probate law, guardianships, and conservatorships, Social Security, SSDI, SSI, Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare setaside trusts, and disability trusts, and he offers special consultations in settlement of personal injury and workers’ compensation claims involving public benefits.

John was active in the Trust & Estate and Elder Law sections of the Colorado Bar Association, and was past-chair of the Elder Law Section. He was also a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, was certified in elder law by the National Elder Law Association, and was a member of the Arapahoe County Bar Association, the Missouri Bar Association, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and the National Alliance of Medicare Set-Aside Professionals.

John was the managing editor of Elder Law in Colorado and an author for the Colorado Senior Law Handbook. He was also was a frequent speaker for CBA-CLE, presenting annually at the Elder Law Retreat and Elder Law Basics seminars.

We wish to offer our deepest condolences to John’s family in this time of sorrow.

Small Estate Affidavit, Writs of Garnishment, and More Forms Amended in March

In March 2017, the Colorado State Judicial Branch issued amendments to 13 of its JDF forms. The amended forms include trust and estate forms such as JDF 999, “Collection of Personal Property by Affidavit,” and writ of garnishment forms such as C.R.C.P. Form 26, “Writ of Continuing Garnishment.”

The 13 forms amended in March available below in PDF format. Some of these forms are also available in Word format on State Judicial’s forms page. Additionally, one form was amended in February and seven were amended in January. These forms are also available below in PDF format.

ADOPTION

  • JDF 495 – Instructions for Second Parent Adoption – Without a Civil Union (revised 1/17)
  • JDF 498 – Instructions for Kinship Adoption (revised 1/17)
  • JDF 499 – Instructions for Custodial Adoption (revised 1/17)
  • JDF 500 – Instructions for Stepparent Adoption (revised 1/17)
  • JDF 528 – Petition for Adult Adoption (revised 3/17)

CRIMINAL LAW

  • JDF 323(a)Instructions to File a Petition to Seal Records Related to Illegal Possession or Consumption of Ethyl Alcohol by an Underage Person (MIP) (For Offenses Committed Prior to July 1, 2014) (revised 3/17)
  • JDF 375 – Compensated Surety Request for a Show Cause Hearing (revised 1/17)

DOMESTIC RELATIONS

  • JDF 1111 – Sworn Financial Statement (revised 1/17)
  • JDF 1337 – Certificate of Mediation/ADR Compliance (CADR) (revised 2/17)

GARNISHMENT

  • C.R.C.P. Form 26 – Writ of Continuing Garnishment (revised 3/17)
  • C.R.C.P. Form 28 – Objection to Calculation of Exempt Earnings (revised 3/17)
  • C.R.C.P. Form 29 – Writ of Garnishment with Notice of Exemption and Pending Levy (revised 3/17)
  • C.R.C.P. Form 31 – Writ of Garnishment for Support (revised 3/17)
  • C.R.C.P. Form 32 – Writ of Garnishment – Judgment Debtor Other Than Natural Person (revised 3/17)
  • C.R.C.P. Form 33 – Writ of Garnishment in Aid of Writ of Attachment (revised 3/17)

PROTECTIVE PROCEEDINGS/PROBATE

  • JDF 782 – Instructions to File Petition to Accept Adult Guardianship and/or Conservatorship in Colorado from Sending State (revised 3/17)
  • JDF 906 – Instructions for Probate With a Will (revised 3/17)
  • JDF 907 – Instructions for Probate Without a Will (revised 3/17)
  • JDF 998 – Instructions for Completing Affidavit for the Collection of Personal Property of a Decedent (revised 3/17)
  • JDF 999 – Collection of Personal Property by Affidavit (revised 3/17)

SMALL CLAIMS

  • JDF 250 – Notice, Claim, and Summons to Appear for Trial (revised 1/17)

Bills Regarding Hearsay Exception, Free Speech on College Campuses, Juvenile Court Jurisdiction, and More Signed

On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, the governor signed 16 bills into law. He also signed 14 bills into law on March 30, and 12 bills on March 23. To date, the governor has signed 122 bills into law.

Some of the bills recently signed include a bill clarifying the hearsay exception for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, a bill correcting the Colorado Uniform Trust Decanting Act, a bill clarifying that a juvenile court has jurisdiction to issue civil protection orders in dependency and neglect cases, a bill clarifying a student’s right to free speech on college campuses, and more. The bills signed since March 23 are summarized here.

April 4, 2017

  • HB 17-1051“Concerning Modernization of the Colorado ‘Procurement Code’,” by Reps. Bob Rankin & Alec Garnett and Sens. Andy Kerr & Don Coram. The bill reviews the entirety of the Colorado Procurement Code and makes several updates in an effort to modernize the Code.
  • HB 17-1101“Concerning the Creation of the Youth Corrections Monetary Incentives Award Program in the Division of Youth Corrections,” by Rep. Paul Rosenthal and Sens. Nancy Todd & Kevin Priola. The bill authorizes the Division of Youth Corrections to establish, at its discretion, a youth corrections monetary incentives award program. The purpose of the program is to provide monetary awards and incentives for academic, social, and psychological achievement to juveniles who were formerly committed to the Division to assist and encourage them in moving forward in positive directions in life.
  • HB 17-1103“Concerning a State Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Historic Aircraft on Loan for Public Display,” by Reps. Dan Nordberg & Dan Pabon and Sens. Dominick Moreno & Bob Gardner. The bill creates a state sales and use tax exemption for a historic aircraft that is on loan for public display, demonstration, educational, or museum promotional purposes in the state provided certain conditions are met.
  • HB 17-1107“Concerning the Implementation of a New Computer System by the Division of Motor Vehicles to Facilitate the Division’s Administration of the Operation of Motor Vehicles in the State,” by Reps. Dan Thurlow & Jeff Bridges and Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik. The bill makes statutory changes regarding implementation of a new computer system.
  • HB 17-1109“Concerning Prosecuting in One Jurisdiction a Person who has Committed Sexual Assaults Against a Child in Different Jurisdictions,” by Reps. Terri Carver & Jessie Danielson and Sens. John Cooke & Rhonda Fields. The bill allows a prosecutor to charge and bring a pattern-offense case for all such assaults in any jurisdiction where one of the acts occurred, rather than prosecuting each act in the jurisdiction in which it occurred.
  • HB 17-1111“Concerning Allowing Juvenile Courts to Enter Civil Protection Orders in Dependency and Neglect Cases,” by Rep. Susan Beckman and Sen. Rhonda Fields. The bill clarifies that the juvenile court has jurisdiction to enter civil protection orders in dependency and neglect actions in the same manner as district and county courts. The court must follow the same procedures for the issuance of the civil protection orders and use standardized forms.
  • HB 17-1149“Concerning Special License Plates Issued to Members of the United States Military who Served in the United States Army Special Forces,” by Reps. Tony Exum & Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill clarifies which individuals are eligible for a U.S. Army Special Forces license plate.
  • HB 17-1151“Concerning the Regulation of Electrical Assisted Bicycles,” by Reps. Chris Hansen & Yeulin Willett and Sens. Owen Hill & Andy Kerr. The bill defines electrical assisted bicycles and enacts several regulations regarding manufacture, labeling, and government oversight of such bicycles.
  • HB 17-1152: “Concerning the Authority of a Federal Mineral Lease District to Manage a Portion of the Direct Distribution of Money from the Local Government Mineral Impact Fund to Counties for the Benefit of Impacted Areas,” by Reps. Yeulin Willett & Diane Mitsch Bush and Sen. Ray Scott. The bill gives a federal mineral lease district the option to invest a portion of the funding it receives from the local government mineral impact fund in a fund.
  • SB 17-015“Concerning the Unlawful Advertising of Marijuana,” by Sen. Irene Aguilar and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill makes it a level 2 drug misdemeanor for a person not licensed to sell medical or retail marijuana to advertise for the sale of marijuana or marijuana concentrate.
  • SB 17-016“Concerning the Optional Creation of a Child Protection Team by a County,” by Sens. Cheri Jahn & Tim Neville and Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Dan Nordberg. The bill allows counties and groups of contiguous counties to choose whether to establish a child protection team, at the discretion of the county director or the directors of a contiguous group of counties.
  • SB 17-048“Concerning Requiring an Officer to Arrest an Offender who Escapes from an Intensive Supervision Program in the Department of Corrections,” by Sen. John Cooke & Rep. Yeulin Willett. The bill requires a peace officer who believes that an offender in an intensive supervision program has committed an escape by knowingly removing or tampering with an electronic monitoring device to immediately seek a warrant for the offender’s arrest or arrest the offender without undue delay if the offender is in the presence of the officer.
  • SB 17-062“Concerning the Right to Free Speech on Campuses of Public Institutions of Higher Education,” by Sen. Tim Neville and Reps. Jeff Bridges & Stephen Humphrey. The bill prohibits public institutions of higher education from limiting or restricting student expression in a student forum, and prohibits those institutions for penalizing free speech.
  • SB 17-066“Concerning Clarifying Retroactively the Authority of a Municipality to Employ a Police Force without Going Through Sunrise Review,” by Sens. Rhonda Fields & John Cooke and Reps. Steve Lebsock & Lori Saine. The bill clarifies that municipalities may employ a police force without going through the review process for groups seeking peace officer status.
  • SB 17-076“Concerning Authority to Spend Money in the Public School Performance Fund,” by Sen. Kevin Priola and Rep. James Coleman. The bill allows the Department of Education to spend money received as gifts, grants, and donations for monetary awards to certain high-performing public schools and in purchasing tangible items of recognition for the schools.
  • SB 17-125“Concerning Allowing Certain Persons who Have Been Exonerated of Crimes to Receive in Lump-Sum Payments Compensation that is Owed to Them by the State,” by Sen. Lucia Guzman and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill allows an exonerated person to elect to receive the remaining balance of the state’s duty of compensation in a lump sum rather than periodic payments.

March 30, 2017

  • HB 17-1059: “Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by the Department of Public Safety to the General Assembly,” by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill continues indefinitely statutory reporting requirements.
  • HB 17-1076“Concerning Rule-making by the State Engineer Regarding Permits for the Use of Water Artificially Recharged into Nontributary Groundwater Aquifers,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sens. Stephen Fenberg & Don Coram. The bill adds a requirement that the state engineer promulgate rules for the permitting and use of waters artificially recharged into nontributary groundwater aquifers.
  • HB 17-1147“Concerning Defining the Purposes of Community Corrections Programs,” by Rep. Lang Sias and Sen. Daniel Kagan. The bill statutorily defines the purpose of community corrections as to further all purposes of sentencing and improve public safety.
  • HB 17-1180: “Concerning Requirements for the Tuition Assistance Program for Students Enrolled in Career and Technical Education Certificate Programs,” by Reps. Faith Winter & Polly Lawrence and Sens. Andy Kerr & Tim Neville. The bill allows students in technical education programs to receive tuition assistance even if they do not meet credit hour requirements for the federal Pell grant program.
  • SB 17-024“Concerning the Hearsay Exception for Persons with an Intellectual and Developmental Disability when a Defendant is Charged with a Crime Against an At-risk Person,” by Sen. Rhonda Fields and Rep. Dave Young. The bill clarifies that the hearsay exception for a person with an intellectual and developmental disability applies if the defendant is charged under the increased penalties for crimes against at-risk persons.
  • SB 17-031“Concerning the Scheduled Repeal of Reports by the Department of Corrections to the General Assembly,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Rep. Jeni Arndt. The bill continues indefinitely reporting requirements for the Department of Corrections and makes other changes.
  • SB 17-033“Concerning the Authority of a Professional Nurse to Delegate Dispensing Authority for Over-the-Counter Medications,” by Sen. Irene Aguilar and Rep. Polly Lawrence. The bill allows a professional nurse to delegate to another person, after appropriate training, the dispensing authority of an over-the-counter medication to a minor with the signed consent of the minor’s parent or guardian.
  • SB 17-073“Concerning Promotion of the Runyon-Fountain Lakes State Wildlife Area,” by Sen. Leroy Garcia and Rep. Donald Valdez. The bill directs stakeholders interested in the Runyon-Fountain lakes state wildlife area (including the Colorado division of parks and wildlife, the city of Pueblo, and the Pueblo conservancy district) to cooperatively engage in a long-term process to promote the maximum beneficial development and maintenance of the area.
  • SB 17-110“Concerning Expanding the Number of Unrelated Children to No More than Four to Qualify for License-exempt Family Child Care,” by Sens. Larry Crowder & John Kefalas and Reps. James Wilson & Jessie Danielson. The bill expands the circumstances under which an individual can care for children from multiple families for less than 24 hours without obtaining a child care license.
  • SB 17-122“Concerning the Duties of the Fallen Heroes Memorial Commission, and, in Connection Therewith, Repealing the Commission and Shifting all Remaining Responsibilities to the State Capitol Building Advisory Committee,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Reps. Terri Carver & Jessie Danielson. The bill repeals the fallen heroes memorial commission and requires the state capitol building advisory committee to take on any remaining duties of the commission.
  • SB 17-123“Concerning a High School Diploma Endorsement for Biliteracy,” by Sens. Rachel Zenzinger & Kevin Priola and Reps. James Wilson & Millie Hamner. The bill authorizes a school district, BOCES, or institute charter high school to grant a diploma endorsement in biliteracy to a student who demonstrates proficiency in English and at least one foreign language.
  • SB 17-124“Concerning a Correction to the ‘Colorado Uniform Trust Decanting Act’,” by Sens. Beth Martinez Humenik & Dominick Moreno and Reps. Edie Hooten & Dan Nordberg. The bill changes one reference to the second trust to the first trust to conform with the Uniform Law Commission’s corrected version of the Act.
  • SB 17-134“Concerning the Exclusion of Certain Areas of an Alcohol Beverage Licensee’s Operation in the Application of Penalties for Certain Violations,” by Sen. Jack Tate and Reps. Dan Nordberg & Leslie Herod. The bill limits penalties for violations relating to the sale of alcohol beverages to a visibly intoxicated or underage person that occur in a sales room for licensees operating a beer wholesaler, winery, limited winery, or distillery, or in a retail establishment, for licensees operating a brew pub, vintner’s restaurant, or distillery pub.
  • SB 17-194“Concerning an Exception to the Statutory Deadlines for Making Income Tax Refunds for Returns Suspected of Refund-related Fraud,” by Sen. Tim Neville and Rep. Dan Pabon. The bill specifies that if the department of revenue makes a determination, in good faith, that there is a suspicion of identity theft or other refund-related fraud, then the statutory deadlines do not apply.

March 23, 2017

  • HB 17-1015: “Concerning Clarifying the Manner in Which Reductions of Inmates’ Sentences are Administered in County Jails,” by Rep. Edie Hooten and Sen. John Cooke. The bill clarifies and consolidates various statutory sections concerning reductions of sentences for county jail inmates.
  • HB 17-1040: “Concerning Authorizing the Interception of Communication Relating to a Crime of Human Trafficking,” by Reps. Paul Lundeen & Mike Foote and Sens. Cheri Jahn & Kevin Priola. The bill adds human trafficking to the list of crimes for which a judge can issue an order authorizing the interception of certain communications.
  • HB 17-1044“Concerning Autocycles, and, in Connection Therewith, Clarifying that an Autocycle is a Type of Motorcycle and Requiring Autocycle Drivers and Passengers to Use Safety Belts and, if Applicable, Child Safety Restraints,” by Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush and Sen. Nancy Todd. The bill amends the definition of “autocycle” and amends the restraint requirements for autocycles.
  • HB 17-1048“Concerning the Prosecution of Insurance Fraud,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. Jim Smallwood. The bill amends language describing the criminal offense of insurance fraud.
  • HB 17-1065“Concerning a Clarification of Requirements Governing the Formation of Metropolitan Districts, and, in Connection Therewith, Limiting the Inclusion of Agricultural Land Within a Metropolitan District Providing Park and Recreational Services and Clarifying Signature Requirements Governing Judicial Approval of a Petition for Organization of a Proposed Special District,” by Rep. Kimmi Lewis and Sen. Vicki Marble. The bill subjects metropolitan districts to certain limitations regarding parks and recreation and clarifies which signatures can be counted by the district court in determining validity.
  • HB 17-1071“Concerning a Process for Repayment of Certain Criminal Monetary Amounts Ordered by the Court to be Paid Following Conviction,” by Reps. Cole Wist & Pete Lee and Sens. Daniel Kagan & Bob Gardner. The bill establishes a process for a defendant who has paid a monetary amount due for a criminal conviction in a district or county court to request a refund of the amount paid if the conviction was overturned or the restitution award was reversed.
  • HB 17-1092“Concerning Contracts Involving License Royalties with Proprietors of Retail Establishments that Publicly Perform Music,” by Rep. Steve Lebsock and Sen. Jack Tate. The bill expands the law covering contracts between performing rights societies and proprietors of retail establishments to cover investigations and negotiations between the two.
  • HB 17-1133“Concerning the Annual Report on Filing-Office Rules by the Secretary of State,” by Reps. Dan Nordberg & Edie Hooten and Sens. Dominick Moreno & Jack Tate. The bill repeals the requirement that the secretary of state annually report to the governor and legislature regarding filing-office rules promulgated under the “Uniform Commercial Code – Secured Transactions.”
  • HB 17-1136“Concerning Consistent Statutory Language for Electronic Filing of Taxes,” by Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. Bob Gardner. The bill changes the EFT and electronic filing requirements in the taxation statutes for consistency, specifying in all cases that the department may require EFT and electronic filing and that the department may promulgate rules to implement EFT and electronic filing.
  • HB 17-1148“Concerning Applications for Registration to Cultivate Industrial Hemp,” by Rep. Jeni Arndt and Sen. John Cooke. The bill adds a requirement to existing registration requirements that applicants to cultivate industrial hemp for commercial purposes provide the names of each officer, director, member, partner, or owner of 10% or more in the entity applying for registration and any person managing or controlling the entity.
  • HB 17-1157“Concerning Reliance by a Financial Institution on a Certificate of Trust,” by Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp & Dan Nordberg and Sen. Kevin Priola. The bill requires trustees to provide additional information in a certificate of trust when trustees open a trust deposit account and permits the bank to rely on the certificate of trust absent knowledge of fraud.
  • SB 17-008“Concerning Legalizing Certain Knives,” by Sen. Owen Hill and Rep. Steve Lebsock. The bill removes gravity knives and switchblades from the definition of illegal weapons.

For a list of the governor’s 2017 legislative decisions, click here.

Nominate a Trust & Estate Attorney for the R. Sterling Ambler Award

Each year, the CBA Trust & Estate Section presents its Sterling Ambler Award to an outstanding trust and estate attorney who has made significant and multitudinous contributions to the Trust & Estate Section and the legal profession. The Award is given to an individual who has contributed substantially to furtherance of Colorado law, education of others, and the Trust and Estate Section of the Colorado Bar Association. It is named in honor of R. Sterling Ambler, an exceptional attorney who practiced law in Colorado for over 50 years and who gave freely of his time and expertise to individual lawyers, to the Colorado Bar Association, and to the legal profession, until his death in 2004 at the age of 72.

Sterling was skilled in the law but in addition he excelled at writing, debating and refining statutory language and ideas. He worked on many legislative proposals and willingly considered new ideas and developments in the law. His diplomacy and insights were often useful in bridging differences among lawyers, sections of the Bar, and the legislature. He was selfless in advancing the law as a whole over his own personal interests. Sterling Ambler will be remembered for his sense of humor, his quiet unassuming way, and his willingness to accept help from others and to freely share his wealth of knowledge of the law.

Criteria for eligibility for the Sterling Ambler Award include significant years of contribution to the Trust & Estate Section and the legal profession, as well as multiple areas of contribution, including but not limited to building connections between sections of the CBA, helping advance the legislative agenda of the CBA, participation in Trust & Estate Section committee meetings, assisting less experienced attorneys, and participation in professional organizations.

Past recipients of the R. Sterling Ambler Award are:

  • 2009: Bruce Deacon
  • 2010: John DeBruyn
  • 2011: Stanley C. Kent
  • 2012: Robert Steenrod
  • 2013: Marc Darling
  • 2014: Laurie Hunter
  • 2015: Kevin Millard
  • 2016: Eugene Zuspann

Nominations must be returned to the Trust & Estate Section Chair, Darla Daniel. The nomination form is available here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Probate Court Had Jurisdiction to Appoint Temporary Co-Guardians

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In the Interest of L.B. on Thursday, January 12, 2017.

Probate—Child—Subject Matter Jurisdiction—Guardianship—Home State.

L.B.’s mother died and her father, Berzins, hired Dusalijeva as L.B.’s nanny. Later, they developed a romantic relationship. Berzins had and L.B. has dual citizenship in the United States and Latvia. Berzins died in 2015 in Denver. He had two wills: a 2012 Will executed in Latvia, and a 2014 Will executed in Denver. The 2014 Will expressly revoked all prior wills and left the residuary estate in trust for the benefit of L.B. and Blumberg (Berzins’s other daughter) or Blumberg’s descendants.

In March, May, and July 2015, the court appointed Dusalijeva and Blumberg as temporary co-guardians, initially at their request. In April 2015, without informing the Denver Probate Court, Dusalijeva moved for sole guardianship of L.B. in Latvia. After a four-day hearing, the Denver probate court appointed Blumberg and a Latvian couple, the Carlins, as permanent co-guardians of L.B. in August 2015. Ultimately, the Latvian appellate court found that Dusalijeva and her attorney had attempted to deceive the Latvian orphan’s court by relying on the superseded 2012 Will and failing to inform the court of the 2014 Will, and it concluded that matters regarding L.B. should be determined by a U.S. court.

On appeal, Dusalijeva primarily contended that the probate court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. First, she contended that the court lacked jurisdiction under C.R.S. § 15-14-204(5) and (1) on the three occasions it temporarily appointed her and Blumberg as co-guardians. Based on the Colorado Court of Appeals’ review of the record, the court had jurisdiction under C.R.S. § 15-14-204(5). The probate court also had jurisdiction under C.R.S. § 14-13-204(1) because L.B. had been “abandoned” within the meaning of the statute.

Dusalijeva next contended that the probate court lacked permanent subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to C.R.S. § 14-13-204(2). Subsection (2) is arguably inapplicable in this case because the court did not say that its temporary orders appointing co-guardians would become permanent. Instead, the court held a hearing in August 2015 to determine independently who should be L.B.’s permanent guardian. The court did not decide this issue because it found the probate court had jurisdiction under C.R.S. § 14-13-201.

Dusalijeva also appeared to contend that the probate court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to determine permanent guardianship under C.R.S. § 14-13-201(1). The probate court properly exercised subject matter jurisdiction because Colorado was found to be L.B.’s home state. Further, even if Latvia had adopted a provision in substantial conformity with C.R.S. § 14-13-201(1)(a), the Latvian courts declined to exercise jurisdiction, ruling that Colorado was a more appropriate forum.

The court also considered and rejected six other alleged errors by the probate court and declined to address several arguments that Dusalijeva raised for the first time in her reply brief.

The orders were affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Denial of Attorney Fees Not Error in Close Case with No Vexatious, Groundless Claims

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Estate of Fritzler on Thursday, January 12, 2017.

Wills—Business Records Exception—Jury Instruction—Presumption of Undue Influence—Attorney Fees—Costs.

Fritzler and his wife executed numerous wills during the last 10 years of their lives. The last will was drafted just a few years before they each passed away. In all of the wills, the Fritzlers sought to distribute their farm in a generally equitable manner among their five children, but the last will increased son Glen’s portion over son Steven’s portion. Steven contested the will, contending that Glen unduly influenced Fritzler. After a lengthy trial, a jury concluded that the will was valid. Following the verdict, the estate and the personal representative (PR) sought attorney fees and costs. The court denied the award of fees, finding that the case was “close” and Steven did not lack substantial justification. The court partially denied costs, concluding that it lacked equitable authority to grant fees without concurrent statutory authority.

On appeal, Steven contended that the trial court abused its discretion by excluding Fritzler’s hospital medical records because they were admissible under the business records exception. Although the exclusion was an abuse of discretion, any error was harmless because the records were cumulative of other admitted evidence.

Steven also contended that the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on the presumption of undue influence. However, the PR offered sufficient evidence to rebut this presumption. Thus it would have been improper for the court to instruct the jury thereon.

The PR contended that the trial court erred by denying her request for attorney fees under C.R.S. § 13-17-102 and by denying her certain costs as the prevailing party under C.R.C.P. 54(d). The trial court noted that this was a close case and found that even though Steven did not prevail, his claims were not groundless, frivolous, or vexatious. Therefore, the court did not err by denying the request for fees. As to the costs, the trial court awarded most of the requested costs to the PR after a hearing, denying only some that it found to be unreasonable. Therefore, the court did not err in its award of costs.

The judgment and orders were affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Top Ten Programs and Homestudies of 2016: Trust and Estate Law

The year is drawing to a close, which means that the compliance period is ending for a third of Colorado’s attorneys. Still missing some credits? Don’t worry, CBA-CLE has got you covered.

The Top Ten Programs and Homestudies for Trust and Estate practitioners are featured today on Legal Connection. There are many, many other great Trust and Estate programs, and CBA-CLE also offers a wide array of great books for Trust and Estate practitioners. Visit cle.cobar.org/Practice-Area/Trust-and-Estate to peruse our selection of books and programs. And now, without further ado, here are the Top Ten Programs and Homestudies for Trust and Estate Lawyers.

10. Advanced Estate Administration: Complexities Explained
When are third party payors liable for distributions made to fiduciaries? How do you file a portability tax return? Will your malpractice insurance cover you if there is a tort claim for breach of fiduciary duty? Get answers to these complex questions and more from this Advanced Estate Administration homestudy! Also get tips on locating and collecting digital assets in our digital world. Also included: uncertainty regarding the legal test for capacity in Colorado, and ethics on conflicts of interest issues that arise in estate administration. Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Available for 6 general credits, including 1 ethics credit.

9. Decanting, Digital Assets Act, and the Determination of Heirship Act — Trust & Estate Fall Update 2016
The name of the game for the program is NEW, NEW NEW! Attend to find out everything you need to know about the new decanting rules, the new determination of heirship statute, Colorado’s new Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, and IRS Form 8971 and the new basis consistency rules. There will also be a discussion about the recent ATF regulation changes in the transference of firearms. Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Available for 6 general credits.

8. Counseling Trustees on their Duties
This program defines “fiduciary,” including trustees, personal representatives, agents under powers of attorney, and others; explains the basic statutes, principles, and requirements of fiduciary administration; explains who can and cannot serve as a fiduciary; and provides an in-depth discussion of a trustee’s duties. Order the Video OnDemand here and the MP3 here. Available for 4 general credits.

7. Understanding Benefits — Trust & Estate Fall Update 2015
The Trust and Estate Fall Update is your guide for understanding benefits in its many forms for the estate planning practitioner.  Get the latest information on the available resources for long term placement in nursing homes, as well as the ethics of privity in estate planning. Whether it’s Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security or the Veteran’s Administration, this CLE has it all. Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Available for 6 general credits, including 1 ethics credit.

6. 30 Cases Every Trust & Estate Lawyer Should Know
What are the cases you thought of when you read the title of this program? Spencer Crona dives into the cases that every trust and estate lawyer should know. He explains the holdings, and gives you analysis and key insights. Armed with this case list, you’ll never have to phone mother to say you won’t be a lawyer after all. Order the Video OnDemand here and the MP3 here. Available for 2 general credits.

5. Funding the Revocable Living Trust
The revocable living trust has been an important estate planning tool for those seeking to avoid probate and protect their privacy. The effectiveness of this strategy depends largely on proper funding of assets, without which the primary purpose of utilizing a revocable living trust rather than the traditional will, is defeated. Each type of asset owned by the client will have different challenges in preparing for transfer to the trust. Mr. Schmidt  reviews the issues encountered for the most commonly encountered types of transfers. You’ll also receive a PDF copy of the CBA-CLE book, Funding the Revocable Living Trust, authored by L. William Schmidt, Jr. Order the Video OnDemand here and the MP3 here. Available for 1 general credit.

4. No Contest Clauses — Current Perspectives on Estate Planning and Litigation
With the rise in post-mortem estate planning and the increasing ability to modify estate planning documents after death, clients are becoming more and more unsure of the finality of their estate planning. As a result, practitioners are experiencing an increase in the use and enforcement of in terrorem or “no contest clauses.” Similar to most states, Colorado law has long provided for the enforceability of no contest clauses subject to a probable cause exception. Taking into account the public policy considerations, risk analyses, and increasingly litigious nature of estate and trust beneficiaries, estate planning attorneys and probate litigators alike can benefit from learning more about no contest clauses and how they play out under Colorado law. Order the Video OnDemand here and the MP3 here. Available for 1 general credit.

3. Understanding and Using Trusts — A Nine Program Series
This series consists of nine programs, each dedicated to a key area of trust law. The expert members of the faculty will explain the purposes, mechanisms and key clauses included in a wide variety of trusts typical for a Colorado trust and estate practice. They will explain the client needs that each trust addresses and how each type of trust meets those needs. The faculty will also point out common errors that practitioners sometimes make when working with these trusts. Other important issues that concern trusts, such as taxation, ethics, liability, and malpractice will also be covered. Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Entire series available for 36 general credits.

2. Wade/Parks: Colorado Law of Wills, Trusts, and Fiduciary Administration
Through this course and his comprehensive treatise, Mr. Wade provides a thorough commentary on the law of wills, trusts, and fiduciary administration, focusing on leading Colorado cases, the probate code, and related fiduciary statutes. Each homestudy order receives a copy of the CBA-CLE book Wade/Parks: Colorado Law of Wills, Trusts, and Fiduciary Administration, 7th Edition, as part of the course materials for this program. Please note the book will be provided in PDF. Order the Video OnDemand here, the CD homestudy here, and the MP3 here. Available for 4 general credits, including 1 ethics credit.

1. 36th Annual Estate Planning Retreat
This annual three-day conference is a can’t-miss event for trust and estate practitioners. A wide range of topics are discussed each year. Last summer’s event covered such topics as “Advising Clients on the Mandatory Reporting of Abuse,” “Just Say No! Don’t Leave Your Client with Outdated Discretionary Distribution Language,” “Insurance Coverage Issues in Estate, Trust, and Fiduciary Litigation,” and much more. Although the event is live-only, planning is well underway for the 2017 program. Save the date! The 37th Annual Estate Planning Retreat will take place from June 8-10, 2017, at the Vail Marriott Resort & Spa. Look for registration information at EstatePlanningRetreat.org.

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Lacked Authority to Award Fees for Unjustified Claim in Foreign Court

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Bruce v. Roberts on Thursday, December 15, 2016.

Trust—Frivolous Lawsuit—Attorney Fees—Foreign Court—Work Product.

James Roberts assisted his mother Della Roberts with forming the Della I. Roberts Trust in Colorado, where she lived. Upon Della’s death eight days later, James, the designated trustee, was supposed to divide the trust’s assets into two equal shares—one to benefit James and his wife, Mary Sue Roberts, and the second to benefit Della’s grandchildren, James and Mary Sue’s children. James did not properly administer the trust, but apparently, no one expressed concern about his administration until after he died.

After James’s death, Mary Sue assumed the role of trustee pursuant to the trust’s provisions. The grandchildren, who were ultimately appointed as trustees (trustees) objected and promptly removed Mary Sue as trustee. Although the Colorado court assumed jurisdiction, Mary Sue filed a separate case in West Virginia, where she lived, which was later dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Bruce represented Mary Sue in both the Colorado and West Virginia matters. The district court in Colorado accepted a final accounting of the trust filed by trustees, ordered all assets remaining in the trust be distributed to the grandchildren in equal shares, and found that the trust could recover administrative costs and attorney fees incurred in litigating both the Colorado and West Virginia cases, pursuant to CRS § 13-17-102, from Bruce and Mary Sue. It also assessed $54,565 in fees against Bruce for the West Virginia action.

Bruce appealed the district court’s order only as it pertains to attorney fees awarded for the West Virginia action. He contended that CRS § 13-17-102 did not authorize the court to award attorney fees incurred solely in the West Virginia case. CRS §13-17-102 does not authorize a Colorado court to award attorney fees incurred in an action in a foreign court, unless work product created for use in the foreign court is also used in the Colorado court. Neither the district court’s order nor the record clarifies whether the trustees used work product created for the West Virginia action in the Colorado proceedings.

The portion of the order awarding $54,565 for attorney fees incurred in the West Virginia action was vacated, and the case was remanded for the district court to determine whether the trustees used work product created for the West Virginia action in the Colorado proceedings.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

When Your Client’s Kid Needs Help: Juvenile Criminal Justice for Every Attorney

pow6qw4fks1i955Every lawyer has had the experience of their client asking questions about an area of law in which they don’t practice. A tax lawyer may field questions about her client’s DUI matter. An immigration attorney may receive a question from his client about preparing an estate plan. A domestic relations attorney may hear questions about her client’s business. Regardless of an attorney’s area of expertise, clients will ask legal questions and expect informed answers.

So what do you do when your client tells you his kid might be in trouble with the law? Because few matters are more important to a parent than the well-being of his or her child, knowing what to say and when to recommend that your client seek a juvenile defense attorney is vital.

From the legalization of marijuana in Colorado to the perils of social media, kids live in a different world than a generation ago. These days, it seems there are more and more ways for kids to find themselves in trouble with the law, not because of criminal intent, but because the children or their families do not understand what behavior the law criminalizes. The pitfalls kids face in the criminal system and school disciplinary settings can be extraordinary, and the consequences can be far-reaching—even lifelong.

In seeking to protect the client’s children from lifelong consequences, it is imperative and ethically required for an attorney to fully understand the laws applicable to the matter, or to find someone who specializes in juvenile law to provide guidance. The Criminal Code and Children’s Code are complex, and children are frequently treated differently than adults in regard to criminal matters.

On Monday, December 12, 2016, attorney Lara Marks Baker will deliver a one-hour breakfast presentation on guiding your client through juvenile criminal justice issues. This program is a great way to learn about what to do when your clients need help with their kids. Lara will highlight the federal and state laws which are frequently implicated in matters of juvenile justice, and when to signal a client that criminal or disciplinary matters may be forthcoming. Register by calling (303) 860-0608 or by clicking the links below.

CLELogo

CLE Program: When Your Client’s Kid Needs Help

This CLE presentation will occur on December 12, 2016, at the CBA-CLE offices (1900 Grant Street, Third Floor), from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Register for the live program here or register for the webcast here. You may also call (303) 860-0608 to register.

Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here: MP3Video OnDemand.