Newsletter

Criminal Law Newsletter

  • Drug Charges for U.S. Citizens Arrested Abroad
    United States citizens frequently believe they will not be subject to foreign laws for crimes committed abroad since they are U.S. citizens. This is not the case. In fact, the consequences for crimes committed abroad, especially drug... Read more.
  • Medicolegal Entomology
    Forensic entomology is the study of insects in a manner that is considered reliable for public or legal matters. A subcategory, medicolegal entomology, is focused primarily on the study of insects in connection to investigations of... Read more.
  • Concealing Assets and Other Forms of Bankruptcy Fraud
    Bankruptcy fraud has become a common way for debtors to abuse and manipulate a system that was intended to help the truly indebted manage overwhelming financial liability. Considered to be both a civil and a criminal offense, committing... Read more.
  • The No Merger Rule for Criminal Offenses and Limited Exceptions to the Rule
    Under the traditional merger rule, a person engaged in conduct that constituted both a felony and a misdemeanor could not be convicted of both, because the misdemeanor was considered to have merged into the felony. Under this rule, the... Read more.
Criminal Law 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.