Chapter 314

2008 -- S 2231

Enacted 07/08/08





     Introduced By: Senators McBurney, and Jabour

     Date Introduced: February 06, 2008


It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:


     SECTION 1. Chapter 33-11 of the General Laws entitled "Claims Against Decedents'

Estates" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:


     33-11-51. Survival of child support obligations -- Enforcement of claims -- Child

support public policy. (a) It is the public policy of the state of Rhode Island that dependent

children shall be maintained and supported, as completely as possible, from the resources of their

parents thereby relieving or avoiding, to the fullest extent, the burden borne by the citizens of the


     (b) In furtherance of said policy and not withstanding any conflicting statute or prior case

law, it is declared that a parent's legally enforceable obligation to pay child support, past and


     (1) continues until the child's eighteenth (18th) birthday or such later date or event set

forth in the family court's decree of child support;

     (2) is not extinguished by but survives the parent's death;

     (3) is enforceable as a priority creditor's claim from the deceased parent's probate estate;

     (4) is enforceable by imposition of a constructive trust over the deceased parent's non-

probate assets by equity petition in the superior court to the extent of any deficiency from the

deceased parent's probate estate;

     (5) takes precedence over and must be satisfied prior to any distribution of the deceased

parent's probate assets by intestacy or by will; and

     (6) cannot be nullified by disinheriting the child, however, a parent may exercise

testamentary discretion and disinherit a child subject to the prior satisfaction of all his or her child

support obligations, accrued and future.

     (c) The family court may modify child support obligations only for a substantial change

in circumstances while the child is a minor and the parent with the obligation to support the child

is alive. After said parent's death, the probate or superior court, as the case may be, shall hear and

determine the child's claim and may award:

     (1) delinquent and/or accrued child support to the date of the parent's death, with interest

therein at the statutory rate; and

     (2) future or prospective child support until the child's eighteenth (18th) birthday or such

later date or event set forth in the family court's decree of child support, offset by social security

benefits payable to or for the child by reason of the parent's death, and discounted to present



     SECTION 2. Section 33-12-11 of the General Laws in Chapter 33-12 entitled "Payment

of Decedents' Debts and Charges" is hereby amended to read as follows:


     33-12-11. Order of preference of debts. -- (a) If the estate of a decedent is insufficient

to pay his or her debts, the same, after deducting the charges of administration, and any property

as is set off and allowed to the widow and family, shall be applied to the payment of his or her

debts and charges in the following order:

     (1) The necessary funeral charges of the deceased.

     (2) The necessary expenses of his or her last sickness.

     (3) Debts due to the United States.

     (4) Debts due to this state, and all state and town taxes.

     (5) Past and future child support obligations pursuant to section 33-11-51.

     (5) (6) Wages of labor performed within six (6) months next prior to the death of the

deceased person, not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) to any one person.

     (6) (7) Proceeds due the Rhode Island state lottery pursuant to section 42-61-6.2.

     (7) (8) Other debts filed within six (6) months of the first notice.

     (8) (9) All other debts.

     (b) If there is not sufficient property to pay all the debts of any class, the creditors of that

class shall be paid ratably upon their respective claims; and no payment shall be made to creditors

of any class until all of those of the preceding class or classes have been paid in full.


     SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon passage.