In re Estate of Haviland, 177 Wn.2d 68 (Wash. Sup. Ct. 2013)

(will contest case; while will being contested, state (WA) legislature amended slayer statutes to disinherit persons who financially abuse vulnerable adults; estate administrator sought trial court determination concerning disinheritance of decedent's second wife whom he married in 1997 when he was 85 (decedent remarried after first wife died in 1993); second wife 50 years younger than decedent; decedent agreed before marriage to pay second wife $100,000 toward her education and another $300,000 to $350,000 as a "nest egg"; decedent's will left entire probate estate to second wife except for $55,000; decedent's children given right of first refusal to certain real estate if second wife decided to sell it; decedent also named second wife as a personal representative and amended his trust for second wife's benefit and transferred securities to her along with large cash gifts to her family members and transferring funds from couple's joint checking account to second wife's personal account; record unclear as to whether decedent suffered dementia at time will signed in 2006 (at age 94); decedent's children challenged will on testamentary capacity grounds; trial court invalidated will as product of undue influence; appellate court affirmed; slayer statute then amended (approximately one year after decedent's death) and trial court refused to apply the changes retroactively; that finding reversed on appeal and case remanded to determine whether trial court's findings of financial exploitation sufficient to determine if second wife abuser under statute; issue in present case is whether second wife is financial abuser under statute and not entitled to benefit under decedent's will; statute effective in July of 2009, but purpose of statute is to bar distribution of property to financial abuser; triggering event of application of statute is attempt by abuser to receive property or benefit from estate of abused person; before probate, second wife did not have vested right to inheritance so no retroactive effect of statute because second wife's interests only vested upon completion of probate; no violation of ex post facto clause of U.S. Constitution; dissent believed intent of legislature in amending slayer statute was to bar elder abuse rather than disinherit unworthy heirs).