Question: What is the “Dead Man” statute?
Answer: The Dead Man’s Statute guard against false testimony by a survivor by establishing a rule of mutuality, wherein the lips of the surviving party are closed by law when the lips of the other party are closed by death. Generally, when an executor or administrator of an estate is one party, the adverse parties are not competent to testify about transactions that took place during the lifetime of the decedent. Furthermore, the general purpose of the statutes is to protect decedents’ estates from spurious claims.
Dead Man’s Statute provides as follows: (a) This section applies to suits or proceedings: (1) in which an executor or administrator is a party; (2) involving matters that occurred during the lifetime of the decedent; and (3) where a judgment or allowance may be made or rendered for or against the estate represented by the executor or administrator. (b) Except as provided in subsection (c), a person: (1) who is a necessary party to the issue or record; and (2) whose interest is adverse to the estate; is not a competent witness as to matters against the estate. (c) In cases where: (1) a deposition of the decedent was taken; or (2) the decedent has previously testified as to the matter; and the decedent’s testimony or deposition can be used as evidence for the executor or administrator, the adverse party is a competent witness as to any matters embraced in the deposition or testimony.