What happens when a beneficiary is criminally responsible for the deceased’s death?


In the Fenotti Estate case, Chief Justice Hinkson considered a thought-provoking (and troubling) issue:  what occurs when a beneficiary of a deceased’s estate was criminally responsible for the deceased’s death?

In this case, the deceased did not leave a Will.  As a result, the deceased’s estate (the “Estate”) would pass on intestacy to the deceased’s four children.  However, one of the deceased’s children had pled guilty to the deceased’s murder.  The administrator of the Estate asked the Court for directions regarding the portion of the Estate that was supposed to pass to that child.

Chief Justice Hinkson held that the law precludes a person from benefiting from his or her own crime.  Therefore, the child was not entitled to receive a portion of the Estate.  As a matter of public policy, this conclusion makes perfect sense to the author.

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