In re the Estate of Mark M. King, deceased. Julie M. King, Appellant,
Carylyn K. Bell, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Mark M. King; Michael McCandish King; and Colton McCandish King, Appellees.
Arapahoe County District Court No. 16PR30695 Honorable H.
Clay Hurst, Magistrate
& Keller, P.C., G. Stephen Long, Denver, Colorado, for
Springer and Steinberg, P.C., Jeffrey A. Springer, Craig L.
Pankratz, Denver Colorado, for Appellee Carylyn K. Bell.
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, Carrie E. Johnson,
Denver, Colorado, for Appellees Michael McCandish King and
Colton McCandish King.
1 This appeal presents a probate question of first impression
in Colorado: Does the omitted spouse statute, section
15-11-301(1)(c), C.R.S. 2018, preclude a surviving spouse
from claiming an intestate share of the decedent's estate
where the decedent did not mention the surviving spouse of
ten months in his will but did leave her $4, 000, 000 in life
insurance proceeds and $52, 000 in joint bank accounts?
Applying section 15-11-301, we conclude that the answer is
yes. Therefore, we affirm.
2 Julie M. King (surviving spouse) filed a "Petition for
an Omitted Spouse Share," contending that she was
unintentionally disinherited from the estate of Mark M. King
(decedent) and, therefore, entitled to "$163, 000.00
(indexed for inflation) . . . plus 50% of the balance of the
estate." The personal representative, decedent's
sister Carylyn K. Bell, and decedent's children, Michael
McCandish King and Colton McCandish King (collectively, the
estate), opposed the petition, arguing that surviving
spouse's omission was intentional because decedent
provided for her outside of the will - namely, through $4,
462, 806 she received in life insurance proceeds and joint
3 The magistrate held an evidentiary hearing. Following the
hearing, the magistrate entered a written order regarding the
Petition for an Omitted Spouse Share. The magistrate found
4 Decedent established his estate plan in 2000. In doing so,
he created a pourover will and the Mark M. King Revocable
Trust. Decedent also executed three codicils to the will and
amended the trust three times.
5 In May 2015, decedent and his first wife divorced. Decedent
and surviving spouse began dating, and by July 2015 decedent
regarded surviving spouse as his "partner." On July
27, 2015, decedent obtained a $5, 000, 000 life insurance
policy and designated surviving spouse, then known as Julie
Pelletier, to receive $4, 000, 000 of the policy and another
friend, Jana Olsen, to receive the other $1, 000, 000.
6 Decedent and surviving spouse married six weeks later, on
September 16, 2015. Decedent did not amend his will or trust
7 But, eight months later, on May 19, 2016, decedent did
amend the $4, 000, 000 life insurance policy to reflect his
new spouse. Specifically, he wrote to the Northwestern Mutual
Insurance Company about amending the life insurance policy:
I just looked at insurance summary and it was not clear that
my Wife Julie Michelle King is the beneficiary of the $4mm of
the $5mmm policy. First it shows her maiden name of Pelletier
but second does not specify her allocation of 80% of the
policy. Can you please correct her name change and send a
policy that provides that she is beneficiary, Thanks Mark
passed away two months later.
8 In addition to the $4, 000, 000 life insurance policy,
surviving spouse received about $52, 000 contained in joint
bank accounts and $410, 806 from decedent's retirement
plans. In total, surviving spouse received $4,
462, 806. Conversely, according to decedent's will,
eighty-five percent of decedent's estate poured into the
Mark M. King Revocable Trust for his children and fifteen
percent went to other family members and
9 Based on these findings, the magistrate concluded that
surviving spouse was not an omitted spouse. This appeal
followed. See C.R.M. 7(b).
Entitlement of Surviving Spouse: Effect of Premarital Will
Standard of Review
10 We review a judgment entered after a trial to the court as
a mixed question of fact and law. Jehly v. Brown,
2014 COA 39, ¶ 8. "We defer to the court's
credibility determinations and will disturb its findings of
fact only if they are clearly erroneous and not supported by
the record. . . . We review de novo the court's
application of the ...