Maxine Aaronson, Attorney at Law
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Estate Planning Newsletter

  • Transferring Assets to Minors-Custodial Accounts
    Minors have no legal capacity to manage property. Thus, transferring property and other assets to minors can be problematic. For example, parents or other adults may wish to convey a small amount of property to a minor without investing... Read more.
  • Effect of Separation and Divorce on Estates and Trusts
    Most people are aware that a surviving spouse is usually entitled to inherit all or a large portion of the estate of a deceased spouse. Fewer understand the effect on estates if one spouse dies during a legal separation or after a... Read more.
  • Avoiding the Reciprocal Trust Doctrine
    Estate planning attorneys utilize a number of different estate planning techniques to accomplish the goals of their clients and sometimes to minimize transfer taxes. One common estate planning technique is the transfer of assets into an... Read more.
  • Filing a Death Claim When an Insured Person Dies
    The beneficiary of a life insurance policy is the person entitled to receive the death benefit of the policy when the insured person dies. In order to collect on a death benefit claim, the beneficiary must usually comply with specific... Read more.
Estate Planning News Links

Homicide & Estate Planning

If a person murders a relative, is he/she entitled to receive any of the victim’s property? In most cases, the answer would be “no.” Usually, a convicted killer cannot inherit a victim’s property, even if he/she is a rightful heir or a named beneficiary.

Required Characteristics

To lose all rights to the dead relative’s property, the criminal court will need to find that a killer:

  • Intentionally and feloniously killed the person
  • Was legally sane at the time of the murder

Even if a person is not convicted of murder in criminal court, he/she may still lose rights to the dead person’s property if the probate court finds that he/she is responsible for the person’s death.

Forfeited Rights

Once the above are established, then the killer is treated as having “predeceased” the murdered person. This means that any rights the killer once had to the decedent’s estate are passed to whomever is next in line to inherit or manage the estate (as if the killer never existed as an heir).

The killer will therefore lose all rights to his/her share of the following:

  • Separate, joint, or quasi-community property
  • Bond or life insurance benefits
  • Any nomination as executor, trustee, guardian, or conservator in the decedent’s will or trust

Other Forfeiture

If the killer pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter (instead of being found guilty of murder), he/she may not be viewed as being innocent and may still lose all rights to the decedent’s property.