Thursday, December 13, 2012
The Rhode Island Supreme Court resolved a question of first impression, holding that the stepchildren of a deceased person could not inherit under the will because the primary beneficiary had caused the death.
The slayer was the deceased's husband. She died by drowning. The will was executed shortly before the marriage. The husband was the beneficiary with the stepchilden the sole contingent beneficiaries.
The criminal conviction of the husband was overturned. He was found liable in a wrongful death action initiated by the deceased's parents. This finding made him the slayer for purposes of the Act.
His children intended to use the inheritance to fund his murder defense.
The court majority concluded that the Slayer's Act operates to deny the inheritance claims of contingent beneficiaries such as the slayer's children.
A dissent would hold otherwise (as dissents so often do). According to the dissent, the Act only prevents the slayer and those who inherit through the slayer from benefitting from the will. Here, the stepchildren neither slayed or inherited through the slayer.
Turnto10.com had this report concerning the criminal case. The deceased died while scuba diving in the British Virgin Islands. (Mike Frisch)