by Jacqui Brauman
This is probably useless information to most of you – just a little trivia really – because itâ€™s rare that this situation would arise â€¦
The forfeiture rule – is a rule that if someone commits murder or manslaughter then the offender cannot benefit under the Will of the deceased! Makes sense, because we might all start knocking each other off to get our inheritance early â€¦!?!
The rule also goes one step further – it applies as if the offender never existed, so it also wipes out the offenderâ€™s children and any further descendants. So if the offenderâ€™s unwitting children were left a legacy in the Will, their parent would have disinherited them.
The rule also applies to intestacies (where the deceased had no Will) and to joint tenancies. Usually with a joint tenancy, the survivor inherits the whole of the property. But the forfeiture rule operates so that the principle of survivorship doesnâ€™t apply, and the half share of the deceased will be deemed to be held on a constructive trust for their estate.
Interestingly, the forfeiture rule can apply even if the offender is not convicted of an offence. Also, the civil standard of proof applies for the application of the forfeiture rule – so not â€œbeyond reasonable doubtâ€, but the â€œbalance of probabilitiesâ€.
So again – itâ€™s an interesting bit of trivia but probably mostly useless.