The Slayer Statute
July 4th BBQ’s and other social events are always a fun time to gather and talk to people you haven’t seen for awhile. Some people talk about their kids, jobs, and vacations. And then there are the others. These people find out what you do for a living and then ask you law school finals questions.
A lawyer has to be sure not to give advice for which it would be reasonable to assume that an attorney client relationship has been formed. If it has, the lawyer, although he was just eating a hot dog, is now subject to a malpractice claim if that person goes and follows the advice.
The main problem for the lawyer is that, most likely, he or she is not getting all the relevant information and it will be hard to determine what he or she actually was told.This is why a good lawyer stays vague and asks you to see him or her in their office.
Well, I was asked one of those questions and I didn’t answer it. It was if a person causes the decedent’s death, can you still inherit from them.
For this blog, it is based on a general question, and I am not creating an attorney/client relationship with the blog reader. There are two (2) code sections that come to mind. The first is the obvious California penal code section 187 which is murder.
It’s always a bad idea to intentionally kill someone. You could face life in prison, or even worse, the death penalty. Killing a person for money is a special circumstance that a District Attorney might use to get the death penalty.
The second code section is one that you are most likely unfamiliar with—it’s the “Slayer Statute” also known as California Probate code section 254 states that “a person who feloniously and intentionally kills the decedent” are not entitled to inherit from the decedent.
For a real life application of this statute it could be a wife the helps her suffering husband to pass away peacefully by intentionally giving too much medicine all the way to out right murder. One case that comes to mind is the Scott Peterson case. In addition to the famous televised murder case in which Scott Peterson was convicted for killing his wife, there was a not so famous civil case wherein Scott tried to get the life insurance policy payout from his dead wife. The court ruled that the Slayer Statute applied, and even though he was the named beneficiary, he didn’t get a penny.
You might give a penny for your attorney’s thoughts, but when you kill the decedent, you won’t get a penny.
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