If you are a fan of television shows, movies, and books that deal with themes of a murderer killing someone (usually a family member) to receive an inheritance, you may have found yourself wondering whether or not the murderer actually every receives that inheritance.
The short answer is that, in most states, the murderer of the decedent does not receive any inheritance. This is generally known as the slayer rule. Under common law of inheritance, it prohibits inheritance by any person who murders someone they stand to inherit from. So, the murderer is generally treated as if they had predeceased the victim and any inheritance would then pass to his or her issue.
The slayer rule is applied to civil law and not criminal law. Therefore, even if the murderer is found not guilty in criminal court, the civil court may find there is enough evidence to declare wrongful death and then divest the inheritance.
Please contact a profession Estate Administration Attorney when you find yourself in a situation where you need to execute an estate where the decedent was a victim of murder by a potential inheritor.
*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be constituted as professional legal advice.