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Uniform Simultaneous Death Act What it is How it Works

Uniform Simultaneous Death Act What it is How it Works

Uniform Simultaneous Death Act: What it is, How it Works

What Is the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act?

The Uniform Simultaneous Death Act is a law used in some states to determine inheritance when two or more people die around the same time. If two or more people die within a 120-hour period without a will, their assets can be passed down to their relatives instead of going through multiple estates, avoiding double administrative costs.

Key Takeaways

  • The Uniform Simultaneous Death Act determines inheritance in cases where two or more people die close together.
  • Assets of individuals who die within a 120-hour period without a will go to their relatives, avoiding double administrative costs.
  • The law eliminates the need for multiple probates to transfer estates and distribute assets.

How the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act Works

Enacted in 1940 and revised in subsequent years, most states in the U.S. have adopted the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act. The updated version in 1993 includes provisions for individuals who have been missing for at least five years and are presumed dead.

When a person dies intestate (without a will), a probate court decides how to administer the estate. The Uniform Simultaneous Death Act helps heirs by clarifying inheritance issues in cases where multiple people die without leaving wills.

For example, if a couple dies in a plane crash, and one is pronounced dead at the scene while the other dies the next day, the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act combines and distributes the assets equally among their relatives. This avoids the need for two probates and reduces the administrative costs associated with the probate process.

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Special Considerations

In some cases, the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act may not apply if a person’s will specifically addresses simultaneous deaths or deaths within a certain time frame. Certain provisions of the act, such as the 120-hour survival period requirement, can be waived based on governing instruments like wills, deeds, trusts, or insurance policies.

The 120-hour survival period can also be ignored if its application has adverse effects, such as unintended failure or duplication of asset disposition. However, survival must still be established with convincing and clear evidence.

Uniform Simultaneous Death Act vs. Uniform Probate Code

While some states have adopted the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act, others have enacted all or parts of the Uniform Probate Code. The Uniform Probate Code governs inheritance and the estates of deceased parties, providing uniformity to the probate process. It covers various topics related to individuals dying without a will, probate of wills, estate administration, nonprobate property transfers, and more.

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